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Name: In re T.C.
Case #: C065121
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 01/20/2011

Separate counsel was not required for siblings where one sibling’s interest in adoption did not adversely affect the other’s interest in guardianship. The two minors, ages 11 and two months at the time of detention, were placed together during the dependency proceedings and were bonded. At the 366.26 hearing, they were represented by the same counsel. The department recommended legal guardianship for the older minor, who was conflicted about returning to appellant mother and objected to adoption, and adoption for the younger minor. The court followed the recommendation. On appeal, mother contended that the trial court abused its discretion by failing to appoint separate counsel for the minors because of the conflict in their interests. The appellate court rejected the argument and affirmed. To the extent that there was a conflict between the applicability of the sibling exception to this case and the younger minor’s interest in the permanency of adoption, the conflict was not caused by dual representation. Further, even if the court should have appointed separate counsel for the minors, the error was harmless because there was no reasonable probability the court would have selected different permanent plans absent the error.