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Mother entitled to appointed counsel before parental rights can be terminated

Holding that the respondent-mother "enjoyed constitutional and statutory rights to appointed counsel when the L-GAL sought termination of her parental rights" in a prior appeal, the court vacated the order terminating her rights and remanded for a new best interests hearing because the record showed that she lacked appellate counsel in the prior appeal. A trial court referee declined to terminate respondent's parental rights to the child at issue, finding that it would not serve the child's best interests. The trial court affirmed the referee. The child's L-GAL appealed, arguing that the trial court clearly erred. A different panel of the court reversed the trial court, finding the best interests ruling clearly erroneous, and remanded for entry of an order terminating respondent's parental rights. She now appealed that termination order. The court concluded that "when an indigent parent's right to the care and custody of his or her child are at stake, constitutional principles weigh in favor of appointing counsel." It grounded its decision to set aside the termination order "on the legislative mandate that counsel assist an indigent parent 'at each stage of the proceeding.' Although neither this Court nor the Supreme Court has defined the term 'proceeding' as used in MCL 712A.17c(4)(a), the term indisputably encompasses a best-interest hearing conducted pursuant to MCL 712A.19b(5). It logically follows that an L-GAL's interlocutory challenge to a referee's best-interest finding qualifies as a 'stage in the proceeding' when the relief sought is the termination of parental rights." The trial court "was obliged to inform respondent of her right to appellate counsel when the L-GAL claimed an appeal." The fact that the L-GAL sought appellate termination of her parental rights "heightened the statutory and constitutional imperatives for appointed counsel." The court concluded that the "law of the case doctrine, designed to protect efficiency and finality, cannot trump the right of a parent to the assistance of appellate counsel. To hold otherwise would render illusory the statutory and constitutional requirements that counsel be afforded at all stages of parental rights termination proceedings, erecting an unnecessary barrier to rectifying a flawed appeal." On remand, the trial court "may consider all information gathered during the proceedings, and may supplement the record with current facts."

5 Common Misdemeanors Affecting People in Michigan

Originally posted on 11/08/2019 There are many different levels of crime and the consequences once someone has been charged with them. One bracket of crimes is known as a misdemeanor. Let’s go over this level of crime and some common...

PROBATE 44: The court held that the probate court did not err by declaring a will executed by the decedent invalid on the basis that she lacked testamentary capacity to execute it and that it was the product of petitioner’s undue influence.

Defendant and Decedent met in August 2017. In approximately November 2017, Decedent began talking constantly about wanting Defendant to take her to see an attorney for the purpose of changing her will. On March 19, 2018, Defendant filed a petition...

Michigan Expungement Law Updates For 2021

There has been a new laws regarding expungements for the state of Michigan.  Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation that expands the criteria for expungements related to traffic offenses, marijuana convictions, and minor...

Wills and Trusts

Originally posted on: 02/14/2014 Aldrich Legal Service provides legal advice and representation for residents in Plymouth, Ann Arbor, and Southeast Michigan. We also review recent legal cases to examine what took place and what we can...

REAL ESTATE 68: Holding that plaintiffs-buyers’ allegations of fraud in this case arising from the sale of a residence did not preclude the trial court from granting defendants’ motion for summary disposition based on a release, the court affirmed.

This cause of action arises from plaintiffs’ purchase of a residence from defendant, who had rights in the house under a land contract from co-defendant, the legal owner of the house. Before the house was for sale, in January 2018, an upstairs...

REAL ESTATE 65: Determining that it could not conclude the trial court erred in its factual findings, and that it did not err in reforming a 2005 deed, the court affirmed the ruling that defendants were fee simple owners of the disputed 50-foot area

This case arose from a real-property dispute between brothers, as well as their respective wives. After a bench trial, the trial court rendered its findings of fact. The trial court determined that plaintiffs did not prove that excluding the...

FAMILY LAW 58: The trial court did not err by denying defendant-father’s motion to change custody and modify his parenting time of the parties’ child without having an evidentiary hearing to determine if there was proper cause or a change in circums

This case arose from a custody and parenting-time dispute between plaintiff-mother and father over their minor child. After father failed to respond to the paternity complaint within the 21 days of receipt of the complaint, mother filed an affidavit...

DIVORCE 53: Although the court affirmed the trial court’s decisions to deny defendant’s motions to set aside the default and the default JOD, it vacated the portions of the default JOD as to the distribution of marital property, custody, parenting t

Plaintiff filed for divorce. Defendant filed an answer and a counterclaim for divorce.  Plaintiff and defendant were both ordered to appear at the settlement conference. After defendant failed to appear, the trial court entered a default. Soon...

FAMILY LAW 53: The trial court erred by treating the parties’ GAL as an LGAL and denying the parties the right to question her at a hearing; however, the trial court did not err in requiring the parties to compensate the GAL for her services.

Plaintiff and Defendant were never married, but share a young son who was born in 2016. The parties have battled over custody, child support, and other parenting issues ever since. In the spring of 2019, the parties filed competing motions to modify...

The Difference Between Theft, Robbery, and Burglary

Original Post: 1/11/2019 Often, burglary, robbery, and theft are used interchangeably even though there are distinct differences between all of them. Though, what all three do have in common is they may involve the unlawful taking of...

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