Today, Rep. Adam Miller (D-Columbus) applauded the unanimous House passage of legislation that would provide legal protections for Guardians ad litem (GAL) and Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). They are advocates 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.
“This bill protects those who protect the defenseless and the voiceless in our justice system,” said Rep. Miller. “It will also encourage more people to serve in these roles, alleviating court backlogs around the state. 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.”
This bill 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.
The bill now heads to the Ohio Senate for consideration.