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