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News & Press: MCAA Announcements

McKenna's Law - Procedures and Forms Implementing Child's Right to Counsel in CHIPS Cases

Monday, July 31, 2017  
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Please see the message below from the State Court Administrator:

To:  Chief Judges, Court Administrators, Judicial District Administrators and Assistant District Administrators and Directors (JAD), the State Public Defender, MN County Attorney’s Association, Children’s Law Center , MN Dept. of Human Services, State Court Administration Staff, and CJI Judges and Team Secretaries

Please forward this email to other judges, county attorneys, social workers, and attorneys for children in your communities.

On Tuesday, August 1, “McKenna’s Law” (Minn. Stat. 260C.163, subds. 3 and 10) goes into effect.  The law:

  • mandates appointment of counsel for each child age 10 or older who requests counsel if the child is the subject of a child in need of protection or services protection proceeding or is under the guardianship of the commissioner of human services;
  • establishes new procedures for a child age 10 or older to waive appointment of counsel;
  • establishes responsibilities for juvenile court judges, social workers, and attorneys for children. 

Unfortunately, the law leaves many questions unanswered (see “Unanswered Questions”).

In an effort to ensure consistent statewide implementation of McKenna’s law, attached are the following:

  • Statutory Revisions to Minn. Stat. 260C.163, subds. 3 and 10
  • “Summary of Responsibilities” for court administration staff, judges, social workers, and attorneys for children
  • Appendix A – “Script/Checklist for Judge and Consulting Attorney to Notify Child Age 10 or Older of Right to a Lawyer and Right to Participate in Court”
  • Appendix B – “Social Services Notice to Child Age 10 or Older of Right to a Lawyer and Right to Go to Court”
  • Appendix C – “Child Age 10 or Older Request for Lawyer or Waiver of Right to Court-Appointed Lawyer”
  • Appendix D – “Findings and Order Regarding Child Age 10 or Older Request for Lawyer or Waiver of Lawyer”

The documents were prepared by a workgroup comprised of State Court Administration staff attorneys, MN County Attorney’s Association, MN Public Defender’s Office, MN Dept. of Human Services, and Children’s Law Center.

Please note that all of the documents are in nearly final form, but they are still drafts.  In October, State Court Administration staff will seek your input about how the process and forms are working, and whether any changes should be made to make the process more efficient and user-friendly.

If you have questions regarding McKenna’s law, the procedures or forms, please contact Staff Attorney Judy Nord at judy.nord@courts.state.mn.us or 651-282-3972.

Jeff Shorba
State Court Administrator
Minnesota Judicial Branch
135 Minnesota Judicial Center
25 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN  55155

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