Rep. Adam Miller (D-Columbus) today applauded the House Criminal Justice committee passage of House Bill (HB) 226, which would provide legal protections for Guardians ad litem (GAL) and Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). These advocates are appointed by a judge to determine what is in the best interest of a party, usually a minor or adult subject to guardianship, who do not have an attorney of their own. Currently, they are not afforded the same protections as officers of the court like judges and attorneys.
“These court appointed advocates represent the most vulnerable in our community,” said Rep. Miller. “They are volunteers and have to make tough, fair recommendations to the court. They must have the same protections from threats and intimidation as judges, juries, and attorneys. Without these public servants, our children and elderly would be left without help and our court system would find it almost impossible to function properly.”
HB 226 would make it a crime for someone to abuse, threaten, or harass a guardian ad litem or a court appointed special advocate in carrying out their court mandated duties.
“GAL” are courted appointed individuals who assist a domestic or juvenile court in determining what is in a minor child’s, or other court designated party’s best interest. GALS most often serve in dependency, neglect or abuse cases.
“CASA” are volunteers who have been trained to advocate for the best interest of a child who has been abused or neglected. Unlike GALs, they work exclusively on cases involving children.
HB 226 now heads to the full House for consideration.