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Name: San Diego Co. Dept. Social Srvcs v. Sup. Ct.
Case #: D046956
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 12/02/2005

The dependent minor told his counsel that he had been molested at his group home. The juvenile court appointed counsel to investigate a potential civil lawsuit and represent the minor. The court ordered the county to pay attorney fees. The Department objected to the payment of attorney fees by the county and petitioned for writ review. The appellate court granted the writ and vacated the order retaining independent counsel. Although the juvenile court had authority to seek assistance of counsel to investigate the claims, it could not authorize compensation out of county funds. The minor’s interests could have been represented by counsel acting on a pro bono or contingency basis. The court ordered that upon remand, a guardian ad litem should be appointed for the minor who may then seek independent counsel for him on a pro bono or contingency basis.