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Name: Contra Costa County v. Superior Court (Lynda O.)
Case #: A104727
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 03/26/2004
Subsequent History: Mod. opn. 4/19/04

The juvenile court granted Lynda O.’s motion to set aside prior dependency orders concerning the minor child because Lynda had been denied due process at the 1999 jurisdictional hearing when it appointed a guardian ad litem for her. The appellate court here held that the juvenile court erred, because Lynda was not denied due process, nor was she prejudiced by the appointment of a guardian ad litem. The court acted on its own motion to appoint the guardian only after a hearing, and the guardian was appointed only to help Lynda and facilitate communication with her attorney, not to act for her. The guardian did not act for Lynda, and, in fact, informed the court that she was competent and knew what she was doing. The court concluded that nothing in the record suggested that Lynda was prejudiced by the appointment of the guardian, and therefore Sara D. had no application to this case. Further, although a party may move to vacate the appointment of a guardian ad litem made in violation of due process requirements enunciated in Sara D., that case may not be applied to vacate final orders of the juvenile court in dependency proceedings, absent a petition filed pursuant to section 388, and proceedings in accordance with that section.