RULE 17. JUVENILE COURT LAY GUARDIAN AD LITEM
1 (a) Qualifications.
2 (1) Before a person is eligible for service as a lay guardian ad litem, the
3 person must satisfy the following minimum qualifications:
1 A) Possess written credentials establishing that the
A i) a bachelor's degree, preferably in a human
service, education or
6 related field; or
B ii) an associate degree in an academic field related
to child care, child
8 development, or children's services and at least three years of experience in the
9 delivery or supervision of child care or children's services, child development
10 services, or in the education of children.
2 B) Complete a minimum of 18 hours of specialized
lay guardian ad litem
3 C) Complete an additional 18 hours of approved
guardian ad litem
14 training every three years; and
4 D) Possess communication skills necessary to
successfully conduct an
16 interview, prepare a written report, and make an oral presentation
(5) Have no criminal conviction or substantiated instance of child abuse
19 (2) A person is not eligible for service as a lay guardian ad litem if the
21 (A) has pled guilty or been found guilty of a felony;
22 (B) has pled guilty or been found guilty of an offense under N.D.C.C. ch.
23 12.1-20 or equivalent statute or ordinance;
24 (C) has admitted or been adjudicated in juvenile court of an offense under
25 N.D.C.C. ch. 12.1-20 or equivalent statute or ordinance; or
26 (D) has committed a substantiated instance of child abuse or neglect,
27 regardless of whether a criminal conviction was obtained.
28 (b) Responsibilities of a lay guardian ad litem. A lay guardian ad litem
30 (1) advocate for the best interests of the child;
31 (2) exercise independent judgment, gather information, participate in
32 negotiations, and monitor the case, including:
33 (A) reviewing relevant documents; including social services, psychological,
34 psychiatric, medical, therapy, and education records;
35 (B) meeting with and observing the child in the home setting or placement;
36 (C) interviewing parents, siblings, caregivers, and other interested parties
37 with relevant information to the case.
38 (3) complete work in a professional manner by participating in meetings
39 impacting the life of a child, including attending all court proceedings related to
40 the deprivation matter, child-family team meetings, settlement negotiations,
41 appropriate school meetings, and other activities as may be directed by the court in
42 the child's best interest for pre- or post-adjudication matters.
43 (4) obtain releases of information as required and observe all statutes, rules
44 and regulations, regarding confidentiality. A lay guardian ad litem must not
45 disclose or participate in the disclosure of information to any person, except as
46 necessary to perform the guardian ad litem duties specifically provided by law.
47 (5) prepare a written report regarding the child's best interest, including
48 conclusions with specific recommendations as appropriate to the facts of the case -
49 psychological, psychiatric, parenting and chemical dependency evaluations or
50 services or treatment deemed necessary -- this report must be submitted to the
51 juvenile court as directed by the court, and upon receipt copies must be provided to
52 all parties by the juvenile court.
53 (6) treat all individuals with dignity, respect and sensitivity to religious
54 background, racial or ethnic heritage, cultural, gender/orientation and socio-
55 conomic diversity.
56 (7) comply with all state laws regarding the reporting of child abuse or
58 (c) Rights and powers of a lay guardian ad litem.
59 (1) Court Proceedings. A lay guardian ad litem must attend all court
60 proceedings unless excused by the court and must testify when requested. Except
61 as allowed under Rule 5(d), a lay guardian ad litem may not call a witness,
62 question a witness, file a motion, or act as a legal advocate.
63 (2) Interim Report. A lay guardian ad litem may submit an interim report
64 and request a case status review. The interim report must be served on each party,
65 who may serve and file a response within ten days after service of the report. The
66 court may consider the interim report and any response without oral argument or
67 evidentiary hearing. If the court finds grounds for a case status review, the court
68 must set a hearing.
69 (d) Lay guardian ad litem review board.
70 (1) Membership. The lay guardian ad litem review board consists of seven
71 members: a chair appointed by the Chief Justice; one referee; one state's attorney;
72 one parents' counsel; one representative from social services, one representative
73 from juvenile court and one lay guardian. Board staff are one person from the
74 guardian ad litem program and one person from the Court Administrator's office.
75 (2) Terms. Board members are appointed by the Chief Justice for three-year
76 terms and may serve no more than three consecutive three-year terms. Of the
77 members initially appointed and as determined by lot at the first meeting, two will
78 serve for one year, two will serve for two years, and three will serve for three
79 years. Subject to the three term limit, each member is eligible for reappointment
80 and serves until the member's successor is appointed.
81 (3) Board Responsibilities. The board, through panels established under this
82 rule, must receive and review complaints concerning the performance and conduct
83 of lay guardians providing services under this rule.
84 (4) Complaints - Procedure for Review.
85 (A) All complaints must be submitted in writing to the chair of the board.
86 The complaint must include facts underlying the complaint, must specify the
87 misconduct that is the subject of the complaint, and must be signed by the
89 (B) Upon receipt of a written complaint, the chair of the board must
90 determine if the complaint is with regard to a pending case in which lay guardian
91 ad litem services are being provided. If the complaint involves lay guardian ad
92 litem conduct in a pending case, the chair must inform the complainant that the
93 complaint may only be addressed before the court that is hearing the pending case,
94 either by seeking removal of the lay guardian or by contesting the information or
95 recommendation contained in the lay guardian ad litem's report or testimony. In
96 pending cases, review of the complaint and communications with the complainant
97 must be handled by the chair of the board in a manner that assures the judge or
98 referee presiding in the case remains uninformed about the complaint. If the
99 complaint concerns conduct unrelated to a pending case, the following procedures
101 (i) The chair of the board must review the complaint to determine whether
102 the allegations, if true, have merit. If the allegations are determined to be without
103 merit, the complaint will not be reviewed further and the chair must notify the
104 complainant of the disposition.
105 (ii) If the chair of the board determines the allegations in the complaint, if
106 true, have merit, the complaint must be referred to a three-member panel of the
107 board appointed by the chair. The panel must provide a copy of the complaint to
108 the lay guardian and request a written response from the lay guardian ad litem
109 within 30 days of receipt of the request. The request must identify specific issues
110 in the complaint to which the panel desires a response. The lay guardian ad litem
111 must provide a copy of the response to the complainant. The panel may, as
112 circumstances warrant, request that the complainant and the lay guardian ad litem
113 meet with the panel to review the allegations in the complaint.
114 (5) Misconduct. In reviewing a complaint, the panel must consider whether
115 the allegations in the complaint indicate any of the following forms of misconduct:
116 (A) failure to fulfill responsibilities required under Rule 17(c);
117 (B) violation of the code of conduct for lay guardians, which is included
118 and incorporated in Rule 17 as an appendix;
119 (C) misrepresentation of qualifications to serve as a lay guardian ad litem;
120 (D) violation of state or local laws or court rules; or
121 (E) taking or failing to take any other action that would reasonably place the
122 suitability of the person to serve as a lay guardian ad litem in question.
123 (6) Findings and Dispositions. In considering the complaint and the lay
124 guardian ad litem's written response, the panel must make findings regarding each
125 of the specific issues in the complaint to which the panel requested a response. The
126 findings must indicate that either there is no merit to the issue based on the lay
127 guardian ad litem's response or that there is merit to the issue. The panel must
128 determine whether the issues found to have merit indicate any form of misconduct
129 identified under Rule 17(e)(4). The panel may take any of the following actions:
130 issue a written reprimand, refer the lay guardian ad litem to additional training,
131 require that the lay guardian ad litem be assigned a mentor for a specified period of
132 time, or direct that the lay guardian ad litem be removed from the roster. The panel
133 must take into consideration any prior complaints that resulted in the imposition of
134 any of the identified actions. The complainant and the lay guardian ad litem must
135 be notified in writing of the panel's disposition of the complaint. If the panel
136 directs removal from the roster, the panel may specify the manner and time frame
137 within which the person may apply for placement at a later time on the roster.
138 (7) Confidentiality. A complaint and any associated records are confidential
139 unless the panel has determined under Rule 17(e)(5) that the complaint has merit.
140 Confidential records may be disclosed only in response to a court order.
141 (8) Time frames for Disposition. Complaints must be resolved within 25
142 days of receipt of the complaint if the complaint involves a pending case. All other
143 complaints must be resolved within 120 days of receipt of the complaint. These
144 time frames may be extended by the chair of the board upon a finding by the chair
145 that good cause exists for an extension.
146 (e) Lay guardian ad litem training. The state court administrator must
147 provide for regular training programs to satisfy the qualification requirements
148 under Rule 17(a)(2) and (3). The state court administrator must provide for the
149 development and maintenance of a lay guardian ad litem manual to serve as a
150 resource for those providing services under Rule 17 and as a basis for lay guardian
151 ad litem training programs.
152 EXPLANATORY NOTE
153 Rule 17 was adopted effective March 1, 2010; amended
155 N.D.C.C. § 27-20-48 requires appointment of a lay guardian ad litem for a
156 child in a juvenile proceeding "if the child has no parent, guardian, or custodian
157 appearing on the child's behalf or their interests conflict with the child's or in any
158 other case in which the interests of the child require a guardian." N.D.C.C. § 50-
159 5.1-08, requires appointment of a guardian ad litem in every case involving an
160 abused or neglected child that results in a judicial proceeding.
161 Subdivision (a) was amended, effective________________, to provide a
162 list of circumstances that disqualify a person from service as a lay guardian ad
164 Sources: Juvenile Policy Board Minutes of September 5, 2014, pages 4-5;
165 February 20, 2009; December 5, 2008; August 8, 2008; May 9, 2008; February 29,
166 2008; September 21, 2007; April 20, 2007. Joint Procedure Committee Minutes
167 of January 29-30, 2015, pages 7-8; September 25-26, 2014, pages 12-17;
168 May 21-22, 2009, pages 18-22 .
169 Statutes Affected:
170 Considered: N.D.C.C. §§ 27-20-48, 50-25.1-08.
171 Cross Reference: N.D.R.Ct. 8.7 (Guardian ad Litem).