A guardian ad litem cannot meet with a represented ward unless the ward’s adversary counsel is present.
On Dec. 22, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals reversed a non-final order that required a ward in guardianship to meet with the GAL alone.
Patricia M. Cavey, an attorney with Milwaukee Disability Law Center, who represents the ward, praised the holding as necessary to protect incompetent persons’ right to counsel and to hold GALs to the same standards as other attorneys.
Too many GALS, Cavey said, act like they are “the king of the courthouse.”
Jennifer M. is an adult woman subject to a limited guardianship. Her father is her guardian, and her parents are divorced. The circuit court has appointed an attorney to be her GAL, and she has also retained her own adversary counsel.
After Jennifer’s mother petitioned to remove the father as guardian, Jennifer moved to dismiss the petition, and to replace the GAL. The circuit court denied Jennifer’s motions, and also entered the following order:
“[Jennifer M.] is ordered to meet with Attorney Franz Maurer, her Guardian ad Litem, one-on-one … within 21 days of this order, to discuss [her] position regarding future contact with her maternal family. The Guardian ad Litem is ordered to report to the Court regarding the best interests of [Jennifer] regarding such future contact, as well as any participation by [Jennifer] in the mediation process initiated by the Guardian and [her] mother.”
The Court of Appeals’ granted Jennifer’s petition for interlocutory review, and reversed, in an opinion by Judge Edward R. Brunner.
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GAL Can't Meet Ward Without Attorney - Incompetent Have Right to Presence of Counsel