We joined with the Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities, the Legal Aid Society of D.C., Legal Counsel for the Elderly, the National Disability Rights Network, the National Senior Citizens Law Center, Project Action, and University Legal Services in filing an amicus brief in the D.C. Court of Appeals in this case, which involves a request by a person with moderate mental disability for a change in her guardian. In our brief filed in October 2009, we argued that the lawyer appointed by the court to represent such a person has a duty to represent the client’s interests as the client sees them, not—as happened here—to represent the client’s “best interests” as determined by the lawyer.

The court saw the facts differently and also ruled that the issue had not been properly preserved for appeal. But, in discussing the legal issue, the court disagreed with us and held that, at least on the facts of this case, it was not wrong for the disabled person’s appointed counsel to advocate “what [counsel] has determined to be in the ward’s best interest,” rather than advocating for the ward’s self-determined interest.

Date filed

October 15, 2009

Status

Amicus Filed

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