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Name: In re Esmeralda S.
Case #: E045044
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 07/22/2008
Summary

Appointment of a guardian ad litem without due process was harmless error. Early in the dependency proceedings involving the minor, the mother’s trial attorney requested the court appoint a guardian ad litem for the mother. Without any discussion, the court made the appointment. On appeal from parental rights termination, the mother contended that the juvenile court violated her due process rights by appointing her a guardian ad litem without her consent and without proper procedures. The appellate court agreed that the juvenile court violated the mother’s due process rights, but found the error harmless. Nothing in the record suggests that the mother was unable to express her thoughts to the court either directly or through her appointed guardian, as evidenced by her testimony at the hearings. The guardian properly advocated for the mother’s interests, and the mother never expressed dissatisfaction with the guardian or asked the court to vacate the appointment.