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State Supreme Court|Remands Child Case

LOS ANGELES (CN) - The Los Angeles Juvenile Dependency Court wrongfully disqualified the nonprofit Children's Law Center of Los Angeles from representing a child allegedly at risk of being abused by her mentally ill mother, the California Supreme Court ruled.

A different unit from the same nonprofit law center previously represented the child's mother. But despite finding no actual conflict of interest, the juvenile court decided that lack of ethical screens separating the different law center units created a structural conflict of interest that warranted the center's disqualification from representing the minor.

Judge Denny Chin ruled that the juvenile court committed legal error by applying Castro v. Los Angeles County Board. Of Supervisors and People v. Christian in its decision because those cases involved simultaneous representation, though the Children's Law Center of Los Angeles case involves successive representation.

The Children's Law Center must prove that it can provide ethical screens and safeguard from any conflicts of interest, Chin ruled.

Chin affirmed the Court of Appeals reversal of the disqualification order and remanded the matter to the juvenile court.

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