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Colo. Supreme Court: Guardian Ad Litem Conversations With Kids Not Confidential

LAW WEEK COLORADO

DENVER — The Colorado Supreme Court ruled yesterday that attorney-client privilege does not apply to conversations between guardians ad litem, or GALs, and the children they represent.

The 5-2 opinion in People v. Gabriesheski says that “because a child who is the subject of a dependency and neglect proceeding is not the client of a court-appointed guardian ad litem, neither the statutory attorney-client privilege nor ethical rules governing an attorney’s obligations of confidentiality to a client strictly apply to communications by the child.”

Justice Nathan Coats wrote for the majority; outgoing Justice Alex Martinez wrote a dissent, with Chief Justice Michael Bender joining him. The majority’s decision will have “devastating effects on the ability of GALs to fully represent the best interests of children,” Martinez wrote.

The Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center, which filed an amicus brief in the case, was critical of the court’s ruling.

“The children we represent have often been through horrific abuse before landing in state care,” said Jeff Koy, director of the children’s law center’s litigation team. “They need someone to confide in. Until today, that person was their GAL.”

Colorado Supreme Court Denies Abused and Neglected Children Meaningful Legal Representation

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