Parents Losing Out in Court Representation

Parents Losing Out in Court Representation

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(Salt Lake City-AP) -- In Utah's juvenile courts, the legal interests of the children are being represented well -- while parents often aren't.

That's according to a new survey commissioned by the Utah Court Improvement Project.

The survey found 80 percent of the guardians appointed to represent children's legal interests were doing an "excellent" or "very good" job. But only 51 percent of the attorneys representing parents in the child welfare hearings were rated as excellent or very good.

Appeals Court Judge Pamela Greenwood says the problem shows up most in rural courts, where public defenders have to represent parents in child welfare cases, as well as numerous defendants in criminal cases. One possible solution could be to let some public defenders concentrate mostly on child-welfare clients.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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