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Court of Appeals affirms children’s right to counsel

Michigan Supreme Court building photo
Subterranean via Wikimedia | CC BY 3.0

A new ruling from the Michigan Court of Appeals is reaffirming children’s right to counsel and outlining what that entails.

In a unanimous decision, the court reiterated children need to understand their rights when it comes to representation, and that representing a child doesn’t equal representing a parent.

University of Michigan law professor Kim Thomas said lawyers for kids need “to be trained and adequately informed.”

“About adolescent development, about communicating with young clients and their families, about the nature of representation of young people and I think that goes a long way,” said Thomas.

The court’s opinion also notes a parent can’t waive their child’s right to counsel for them.

Instead, that can only happen with a child’s own “unequivocal” and voluntary request.

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