San Diego Superior Court Rules, Rule 6.3.4

Southern California Local Court Rules
San Diego County
Superior Court
Superior Court of California County of San Diego Local Rules of Court
Division VI. Juvenile
Chapter 3. Attorney Screening and Standards of Representation

Rule 6.3.4. Standards of Representation

A. Basic Attorney-Client Obligations. All attorneys appearing in dependency proceedings must advise their clients of the legal and factual aspects of the client's case and must represent their clients' interests vigorously within applicable legal and ethical boundaries.

In performing these duties, each attorney is expected to:

1. Thoroughly and completely investigate the accuracy of the allegations, explore any possible defenses, and consider alternatives to court action;

2. Meet regularly with clients, including clients who are children, regardless of the age of the child or the child's ability to communicate verbally;

3. Advise the client of the risks and benefits of the possible courses of action, including the taking of writs and appeals;

4. Determine the client's desires and interests;

5. Advocate the client's desires and interests to the court and other parties;

6. Contact social workers and other professionals associated with the client's case;

7. Work with other counsel and the court to resolve disputed aspects of a case without contested hearings;

8. Adhere to mandated timelines;

9. Inform the client of the procedure for lodging a complaint against the attorney;

10. Be familiar with relevant constitutional, statutory, and case law; and

11. Possess fundamental legal skills and a rudimentary understanding of relevant interdisciplinary topics.

In addition to the duties listed above, counsel for the child or counsel's agents are expected to:

12. Have sufficient direct, personal contact with the child to establish and maintain an adequate and professional attorney-client relationship;

13. Explain fully, consistent with the child's ability to understand, the nature and consequences of the court proceedings;

14. Have sufficient contact with the child's caregiver, CASA, if any, and/or therapist, if any, to accurately assess the child's well-being and needs;

15. Monitor the child's development throughout the course of the proceedings and advocate for services that will provide a safe, healthy, and nurturing environment for the child;

16. Maintain a caseload that allows the attorney to perform the duties required by Welfare & Institutions Code section 317, subdivision (e), and California Rules of Court, rule 5.660, and to otherwise adequately counsel and represent the child; and

17. Immediately inform the court of any interest or right of the child which may need to be protected or pursued in other judicial or administrative forums and seek instructions from the court as to appropriate procedures to follow.

18. Provide the attorney's contact information to the child's caregiver and the child if 10 years of age or older no later than 10 days after receipt of the name, address, and telephone number of the caregiver.

B. Relevant Laws and Programs. All attorneys practicing in dependency proceedings must have a working knowledge of the following statutes and rules, as well as the cases interpreting and applying them:

1. Welfare & Institutions Code sections 200-399, 825-830, 900-903.5, 10850, 11400 et seq. [AFDC-FC], and 16000 et seq.;

2. California Rules of Court, rules 5.480-5.487, 5.500-5.740, 8.400-8.474;

3. Code of Civil Procedure sections 128, 170, 170.6, 917.7, and 1209;

4. Education Code sections 56000 et seq. and Government Code section 7579. 5 [educational rights of children];

5. Evidence Code;

6. Family Code sections 3400 et seq. [Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act], 7500 et seq. [Parental Rights; Paternity Presumptions, Blood Testing, and Voluntary Declarations], 7600 et seq. [Uniform Parentage Act], 7800 et seq. [Freedom from Parental Custody and Control], 7900 et seq. [Interstate Compact on Placement of Children], and 7950 et seq. [Foster Care Placement Considerations];

7. Penal Code sections 11165 et seq. [Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act];

8. Title 25, United States Code, sections 1901-1963 [Indian Child Welfare Act] and Indian Child Custody Guidelines published at 44 Federal Register 67,584 (1979);

9. San Diego Superior Court Rules, Division VI-Juvenile.

The following areas of the law and local programs are critical in many dependency cases, and counsel must develop a working knowledge of them as they become applicable to individual cases.

10. The Substance Abuse Recovery Management System ("SARMS") and Dependency Drug Court;

11. Special immigrant juvenile status under Title 8, United States Code section 1101;

12. Title 28, United States Code section 1738A [Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act];

13. Criminal law, juvenile delinquency law, and the San Diego Juvenile Court protocol regarding dual jurisdiction cases;

14. Mental health law (Welfare & Institutions Code sections 4500 et seq. [Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act], 5000 et seq. [Lanterman-Petris-Short Act], 5850 et seq. [Children's Mental Health Services Act], and 6000 et seq. [Admissions and Judicial Commitments]);

15. Family Code sections 6200 et seq. [Domestic Violence Prevention Act];

16. San Diego County Child Victim-Witness Protocol;

17. Other relevant portions of federal and California law relating to the abuse or neglect of children and to children's mental and physical welfare.

C. Legal Skills. In addition to basic legal knowledge, counsel must have and continue to develop the following basic legal skills:

1. Basic trial skills (e.g., proper and succinct direct and cross-examination, proper objections);

2. Basic advocacy skills (e.g., client interviewing and counseling, case investigation, settlement negotiation, witness preparation, use of experts);

3. Relevant motion practice (e.g., motions pursuant to Welfare & Institutions Code sections 350, 388, 390);

4. Sufficient understanding of writ and appellate practice to advise a client whether and how to seek such remedies and to arrange for a specialist to pursue them when necessary.

D. Relevant Interdisciplinary Skills. The dependency system is complex in that it frequently involves issues arising from a variety of disparate and highly specialized areas. A collaborative problem-solving approach usually improves outcomes for children and families. Attorneys appearing in dependency court cannot effectively represent their clients without a fundamental understanding of the interdisciplinary issues listed below and the ability to obtain more detailed insight as the demands of individual cases require. Attorneys should have a general familiarity with and receive ongoing training in the following areas:

1. Dynamics of child abuse and neglect

2. Child development

a. Interviewing children

b. Children as witnesses

c. Developmental milestones as they relate to the identification and consequences of child abuse and neglect

3. Risk assessment

4. Substance abuse--the addiction and recovery process

5. Mental health issues

a. Purposes and uses of psychological and psychiatric evaluations

b. Purposes and expectations of various modalities of therapy

c. Psychotropic medications

6. Medical issues

a. Traumatic injuries

b. Nutritional deficits

c. Drug toxicity in children

7. Government payment issues

a. AFDC-Foster Care

b. CalWORKS and TANF

c. Medi-Cal

d. County Treasury funds

e. Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

f. Social Security Administration (SSA)

g. Adoption Assistance Program (AAP)

h. Kin-GAP funds

8. Cultural issues

9. Poverty issues

10. Education issues

11. Domestic violence

12. Family reunification and preservation

13. Reasonable efforts

14. Immigration issues


Eff. Jan. 1, 1998. Renumbered, eff. July 1, 2001. Renumbered and amended, eff. Jan. 1, 2002. Renumbered, eff. Jan. 1, 2006. As amended, eff. Jan. 1, 2007; Jan. 1, 2010; Jan. 1, 2011.

San Diego County Superior Court Rules, Rule 6.3.4, CA R SAN DIEGO SUPER CT Rule 6.3.4

Current with amendments received through 3/1/2011                              



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