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Name: In re Enrique G.
Case #: D047692
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 06/19/2006

Mother appealed from the section 366.26 hearing, arguing that the trial court violated her due process rights by appointing a guardian ad litem (GAL). The appellate court agreed, finding that the order was based solely on counsel’s representation that a GAL was necessary. Mother had not been provided notice that her counsel was going to request the appointment of a GAL and there was no proper inquiry as to whether mother understood the nature of the proceedings and was able to assist her counsel. However, the error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Appointment of a GAL in violation of a parent’s due process rights is a trial error, not a structural error. Mother did not cite any prejudice resulting from the appointment of the GAL. On the contrary, the GAL acted to ensure that mother received the broadest protection of her rights possible, including requesting continuances when mother was not present and instituting writ proceedings challenging the setting of the 366.26 hearing. Therefore, reversal was not required.