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Guardian Ad Litem Appointments

Judge Elaine H. Palmer
Guardian Ad Litem Appointments

Recently enacted GOV'T CODE Sec. 37.004 provides that the court must appoint guardians ad litem from the court's list in order, except where: (a) the parties agree (subject to the court approval) to the appointments for an ad litem whose name is not next on the list or is not on the list; (b) the court finds good cause to appoint a person whose name is not next on the list or is not on the list because the person appointed: (i) has specialized training, skills, experience or other qualities relevant to the subject matter of the case; (ii) has "relevant prior involvement with the parties or case"; or (iii) is in a relevant geographic location.

The 215th District Court takes seriously its responsibility to those for whom guardian ad litem attorneys are appointed.

TEX. R. CIV. P. 173 provides for the appointment of a guardian ad litem when a minor or non compos mentis is a party to a suit, and is represented by a next friend or a guardian who appears to the court to have an interest adverse to the minor.  The trial court can only appoint a guardian ad litem where there is a conflict of interest between the minor and the next friend.  The determination of the existence of a conflict of interest requires the exercise of judicial discretion.

A guardian ad litem should not be expected to do work that is typically done by the attorney for the next friend.  Rather, the guardian ad litem is charged with acting as the advocate for the  "client", which may require the ad litem to assume an adversary stance vis-a-vis the next friend.  It is, therefore, crucial that a guardian ad litem be suited by training and experience that is appropriate to each case.  The court takes into account the special circumstances present in each case when making appointments.  It is, therefore, to be expected that serial appointments from the list required by GOV'T CODE Sec. 37.004 may not be routine.

A guardian ad litem bears the same fiduciary responsibility to the minor or non mentis client as to any other client and may face liability in the event of professional negligence.

Those wishing to be included in the court's list, must submit a written request with a complete résumé that details the nature of the applicant's experience as a civil trial practitioner.  Special capabilities, such as fluency in languages other than English, financial background, and the like, should be listed.   Applicants must also affirm that professional liability is in effect and will remain current.

Inclusion of an attorney's name on the list below is not an endorsement, and no person so listed may state or imply that they have been approved by the 215th District Court for any reason or purpose.  Any such a representation would violate the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct.

1.      Al Benoit
2.      Kathy Cheng 
3.      Glenda Clausell
4.      Nile Copeland
5.      Jim Doyle
6.      Al Flores
7.      Tanner Garth
8.      J. "Larry" Hinojosa
9.      Nomaan Husain
10.    Dwight Jefferson
11.    Seth Kretzer
12.    Tony Malley
13.    Jeralyn Manor
14.    Raphael Qiu
15.    Dion Ramos
16.    April H. Taylor

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