Note: There was an error in the previous update. The correction is included in bold/red.
Sponsored by Representative Goodman, HB1285 states that the court must appoint an attorney for a child involved in dependency proceedings, regardless of age, in the following situations: within 72 hours of termination of parental rights being granted, of placing the child in a group home, of placing the child in inpatient treatment, of placing the child in his or her fourth or subsequent placement, of the child running away from a placement, of the child receiving a suspension or expulsion from school, of the child being charged with a criminal offense, or of the child being referred for a sexually aggressive youth evaluation; as well as within fourteen days of the child being prescribed psychotropic medications. In addition, the court may appoint an attorney to the child in any dependency action on its own initiative, or upon the request of a parent, the child, a guardian ad litem, a caregiver, or the department. The child’s caregiver may refer the child to an attorney for the purposes of filing a motion to request appointment of an attorney at public expense and the child or another individual may also retain an attorney for this purpose. Immediately after a child’s seventh birthday, the department or supervising agency and the child’s guardian ad litem will notify the child of his or her right to request an attorney and ask the child whether he or she wishes to do so.
Substitute bill: As amended, HB 1285 requires the appointment of counsel after termination of parental rights has been granted. The bill also requires that the Washington State Center for Court Research, in consultation with the Office of Civil Legal Aid, evaluate and report on the effect of mandatory attorney representation in termination cases.
As amended by the HSC Committee: The intent section was deleted. The appointment of an attorney for parental termination petitions was made discretionary rather than mandatory. The other discretionary language regarding when the court may appoint an attorney was also deleted. The age at which dependent youth must be notified of their right to an attorney is changed from seven back to 12 years. The section that tasks the Washington State Center for Court Research with evaluating the effects of attorney representation was deleted.