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Monday, October 8, 2012 - 2:00am

GA Supreme Court: Lawyers For Kids

Georgia’s top court is deciding whether a minor can order his attorney to take legal action when his or her guardians disagree.

At stake in the case before the Georgia Supreme Court is a child who asked his lawyer to fight an order to remove him from his guardians. But the boy’s court appointed advocate supported removal from an allegedly abusive home. That raised the question—is there a responsibility to follow a child’s wishes even if the guardians or special advocates disagree?

Some argue that juvenile courts would be swamped with caseloads and high costs to accommodate lawyers who work solely for kids. But Kirsten Widener, with the Barton Child Law and Advocacy Center says children deserve a voice in the courtroom:

“We believe that a child has a right to have their voice heard, again, not to be the deciding factor, but to be an active participant and to be able to have a say before the judge, in terms of what they think should happen.”

Representative Wendall Willard of Sandy Springs will be introducing legislation in January to allow children to speak independently to the court through an attorney.