Bill Text: MS HB772 | 2016 | Regular Session | Engrossed

NOTE: There are more recent revisions of this legislation. Read Latest Draft
Bill Title: Youth court; authorize counsel to represent indigent parent.

Spectrum: Slight Partisan Bill (Democrat 3-1)

Status: (Passed) 2016-05-13 - Approved by Governor [HB772 Detail]

Download: Mississippi-2016-HB772-Engrossed.html

MISSISSIPPI LEGISLATURE

2016 Regular Session

To: Judiciary B

By: Representatives Gipson, Sykes, Campbell, Hines

House Bill 772

(As Passed the House)

AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 43-21-557, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO AUTHORIZE A YOUTH COURT JUDGE TO APPOINT COUNSEL TO REPRESENT AN INDIGENT PARENT OR GUARDIAN; TO AMEND SECTION 99-40-1, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO CONFORM TO THE PRECEDING SECTION; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.

     BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:

     SECTION 1.  Section 43-21-557, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

     43-21-557.  (1)  At the beginning of each adjudicatory hearing, the youth court shall:

          (a)  Verify the name, age and residence of the child who is the subject of the cause and ascertain the relationship of the parties, each to the other;

          (b)  Ascertain whether all necessary parties are present and identify all persons participating in the hearing;

          (c)  Ascertain whether the notice requirements have been complied with and, if not, whether the affected parties intelligently waived compliance in accordance with Section 43-21-507;

          (d)  Explain to the parties the purpose of the hearing and the possible dispositional alternatives thereof; and

          (e)  Explain to the parties:

              (i)  The right to counsel;

              (ii)  The right to remain silent;

              (iii)  The right to subpoena witnesses;

              (iv)  The right to cross-examine witnesses testifying against him; and

              (v)  The right to appeal. 

     (2)  The youth court should then ascertain whether the parties before the youth court are represented by counsel.  If a party before the youth court is not represented by counsel, the youth court shall ascertain whether the party understands his right to counsel.  If the party wishes to retain counsel, the youth court shall continue the hearing for a reasonable time to allow the party to obtain and consult with counsel of his choosing.  If an indigent child does not have counsel, the youth court shall appoint counsel to represent the child and shall continue the hearing for a reasonable time to allow the child to consult with his appointed counsel.  If the court determines that a parent or guardian in a termination of parental rights proceedings is indigent, the youth court judge may appoint counsel to represent such indigent parent or guardian in the proceeding.

     (3)  The youth court may then inquire whether the parties admit or deny the allegations in the petition as provided in Section 43-21-553. 

     (4)  The youth court may at any time terminate the proceedings and dismiss the petition if the youth court finds such action to be conducive to the welfare of the child and in the best interest of the state.

     SECTION 2.  Section 99-40-1, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

     99-40-1.  (1)  There is created the Indigent Appeals Division within the Office of the State Public Defender.  This office shall consist of the Indigent Appeals Director who must be an attorney in good standing with The Mississippi Bar, and staffed by any necessary personnel as determined and hired by the State Defender.  The Indigent Appeals Director shall be appointed by the State Defender.  The remaining attorneys and other staff shall be appointed by the State Defender and shall serve at the will and pleasure of the State Defender.  The Indigent Appeals Director and all other attorneys in the office shall either be active members of The Mississippi Bar, or, if a member in good standing of the bar of another jurisdiction, must apply to and secure admission to The Mississippi Bar within twelve (12) months of the commencement of the person's employment by the office.  The attorneys in the office shall practice law exclusively for the office and shall not engage in any other practice.  The office shall not engage in any litigation other than that related to the office.  The salary for the Indigent Appeals Director shall be equivalent to the salary of district attorneys and the salary of the other attorneys in the office shall be equivalent to the salary of an assistant district attorney.

     (2)  The office shall provide representation on appeal for indigent persons convicted of felonies but not under sentences of death.  Representation shall be provided by staff attorneys, or, in the case of conflict or excessive workload as determined by the State Defender, by attorneys selected, employed and compensated by the office on a contract basis.  Representation shall be provided to indigent parents or guardians who have been appointed counsel by a youth court judge in a termination of parental rights proceeding, to the extent that funds are available for such purpose.  All fees charged by contract counsel and expenses incurred by attorneys in the office and contract counsel must be approved by the court.  At the sole discretion of the State Defender, the office may also represent indigent juveniles adjudicated delinquent on appeals from a county court or chancery court to the Mississippi Supreme Court or the Mississippi Court of Appeals.  The office shall provide advice, education and support to attorneys representing persons under felony charges in the trial courts.

     (3)  There is created in the State Treasury a special fund to be known as the Indigent Appeals Fund.  The purpose of the fund shall be to provide funding for the Indigent Appeals Division.  Monies from the funds derived from assessments under Section 99-19-73 shall be distributed by the State Treasurer upon warrants issued by the State Defender.  The fund shall be a continuing fund, not subject to fiscal-year limitations, and shall consist of:

          (a)  Monies appropriated by the Legislature for the purposes of funding the Indigent Appeals Division;

          (b)  The interest accruing to the fund;

          (c)  Monies received under the provisions of Section 99-19-73;

          (d)  Monies received from the federal government;

          (e)  Donations; and

          (f)  Monies received from such other sources as may be provided by law.

     (4)  (a)  There is created in the Office of the State Public Defender the Public Defender Training Division.  The division shall be staffed by any necessary personnel as determined and hired by the State Defender.  The mission of the division shall be to work closely with the Mississippi Public Defenders Association to provide training and services to public defenders practicing in all state, county and municipal courts.  These services shall include, but not be limited to, continuing legal education, case updates and legal research.  The division shall provide (i) education and training for public defenders practicing in all state, county, municipal and youth courts; (ii) technical assistance for public defenders practicing in all state, county, municipal and youth courts; and (iii) current and accurate information for the Legislature pertaining to the needs of public defenders practicing in all state, county, municipal and youth courts.

          (b)  There is created in the State Treasury a special fund to be known as the Public Defenders Education Fund.  The purpose of the fund shall be to provide funding for the training of public defenders.  Monies from the funds derived from assessments under Section 99-19-73 shall be distributed by the State Treasurer upon warrants issued by the State Defender.  The fund shall be a continuing fund, not subject to fiscal-year limitations, and shall consist of:

              (i)  Monies appropriated by the Legislature for the purposes of public defender training;

              (ii)  The interest accruing to the fund;

              (iii)  Monies received under the provisions of Section 99-19-73;

              (iv)  Monies received from the federal government;

              (v)  Donations; and

              (vi)  Monies received from such other sources as may be provided by law.

     SECTION 3.  This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2016.


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