Tag: GAL
  • Challenging Assumptions in Incompetency Proceedings: Ideas for Guardians ad Litem

    Recently, the School of Government hosted its biennial Guardianship Proceedings for Appointed Counsel program, co-sponsored by the Office of Indigent Defense Services. The program brings together attorneys who serve as guardians ad litem (GALs) in incompetency and guardianship proceedings – a unique role in our judicial system if ever there was one.

    During the program, we discussed the reality that in every proceeding, assumptions get made—by the parties, doctors, social workers, clerks, and GALs themselves—and we brainstormed how GALs can turn those moments into opportunities for more effective representation. I thought it could be useful to share some of the ideas discussed by the group and to welcome folks who were not in attendance to reach out and share their own ideas. Continue Reading

  • The Initial Guide in a New Series: The First Seven Days

    The UNC School of Government’s Public Defense Education group is excited to announce a new series of practice guides, The First Seven Days, by Timothy Heinle, Civil Defender Educator. The guides offer practical tips and strategies for respondent’s attorneys in various civil proceedings to use during the first several days of representation. The ideas suggested in the guides are designed to help busy attorneys hit the ground running in ways that reduce stress for the attorney and improve representation for the client.

    The first entry in the series is The First Seven Days as a Guardian ad Litem in an Incompetency Proceeding. It includes ideas on creating files, client outreach, investigation tools, report writing, and more. Guardian ad litem attorneys in Chapter 35A proceedings can obtain the guide in three ways. Continue Reading

  • Will We See More APS Petitions During COVID-19? What GALs Need to Know

    I previously published on this blog Guardian ad Litem Attorney Challenges in the Era of COVID-19, which explored the complications the current pandemic has posed for Guardians ad Litem (“GALs”) in Chapter 35A incompetency and guardianship proceedings. Given these challenges and other developments, GALs may see an increase in the number of Adult Protective Service (“APS”) petitions being filed under Chapter 108A. This could be good news for GALs and their clients in some situations; however, GALs also need to be aware of the potential risks that could go along with a rise in APS petitions.

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  • Guardian ad Litem Attorney Challenges in the Era of COVID-19

    The goal of this post is to identify key challenges facing Chapter 35A Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Attorneys in the COVID-19 era and to propose strategies for addressing those challenges.

    GAL Access to Respondents

    A fundamental responsibility of GALs in incompetency proceedings is that they “shall personally visit the respondent as soon as possible” after being appointed. G.S. 35A-1107(b). With many facilities restricting visitors currently, GALs are finding it difficult, if not impossible, to meet respondents in person. GALs attempting to visit a respondent should bring with them their appointment paperwork and a copy of G.S. 35A-1107 to show the facility. If a GAL feels it is vital to meet the respondent in person, but is denied access by a facility, consider filing a motion to address access issues with the clerk and subpoena the facility staff to the hearing.

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