IN THE INTEREST OF: C.P., A MINOR APPEAL OF: C.P., A MINOR
from the Order Entered April 22, 2016 In the Court of Common
Pleas of Chester County Criminal Division at No(s):
CP-15-DP-0000029-2014 FID: NO. 15-FN-000020-2014
BEFORE: DUBOW, RANSOM, AND PLATT, JJ.[*]
Jeremiah F. Kane, Esq. ("Attorney Kane"), appeals
from the April 22, 2016 Order entered in the Court of Common
Pleas of Chester County that vacated his appointment as
Guardian Ad Litem ("GAL") in a dependency
proceeding. After careful review, we affirm.
detailed recitation of the factual and procedural history is
unnecessary to our disposition. In sum, on May 7, 2014, the
Chester County Children and Youth Services Agency
("Agency") filed a Dependency Petition alleging,
inter alia, that C.P. ("Child") was truant
and unruly. On the same day, the trial court appointed
Attorney Kane to be both the Child's attorney and the
Child's GAL. Order, dated 5/7/15. On June 4, 2014, the
court adjudicated the Child dependent due to the Child's
truancy, habitual disobedience, and ungovernable acts.
See 42 Pa.C.S. § 6302. The Child was fourteen
years old. During this proceeding, Attorney Kane represented
the Child in a dual role as the Child's attorney and GAL.
result of the dependency determination, the Agency placed the
Child outside of the home from June 2014 until March 2015. In
March 2015, the Agency reunified the Child with his mother.
returning home, however, the Child's unruly behavior
began to escalate once again. On March 29, 2016, Attorney
Kane filed a request for an emergency hearing. On April 7,
2016, the Child's mother signed a Voluntary Placement
Agreement and the Agency placed the Child at Glen Mills
Shelter pending the outcome of evaluations.
April 14, 2016, a hearing officer conducted an emergency
hearing. Attorney Kane once again represented the Child in a
dual role as the Child's attorney and GAL. The Child
wanted to return home; Attorney Kane, however, advocated to
the hearing officer that the Child should remain in
placement. The Child refused to communicate with Attorney
Kane. N.T. Hearing, 4/14/16, at 4-5.
Agency then argued that Attorney Kane should only be acting
as the Child's attorney, rather than attorney and GAL,
because the trial court adjudicated the Child dependent based
on status offenses. Id. at 5-6. In response, Attorney
Kane argued that the Child needed both an attorney and a GAL.
Id. at 7, 10.
end of the hearing, after giving Attorney Kane a chance to
argue that the Child needed both an attorney and a GAL, the
hearing officer vacated Attorney Kane's appointment as
the Child's GAL and retained Attorney Kane as the
Kane raised a challenge to the hearing officer's
recommendation to the trial court. The trial court denied the
challenge on April 20, 2016. On April 22, 2016, the trial
court accepted the hearing officer's recommendations and
entered an Order, inter alia, vacating Attorney
Kane's appointment as the Child's GAL and appointing
Attorney Kane solely as the Child's attorney.
Kane appealed his removal as the Child's GAL. Both
Attorney Kane and the trial court complied with Pa.R.A.P.
Kane raises the following issue on appeal: "Did the
[t]rial [c]ourt abuse its discretion and err in removing
[Attorney Kane] as the [GAL] in the [Child's] Dependency
matter, without notice or written motion from the party
requesting said action and without any statutory authority
for the Court to remove a [GAL] while retaining him as the
[Child's] attorney thereby leaving no one to advocate for
the best interests of the [Child?]" Attorney Kane's
Brief at 6.
review a trial court's decisions in a child dependency
proceeding for an abuse of discretion. In re E.P.,
841 A.2d 128, 131 (Pa. Super. 2003). "We must accept the
facts as found by the trial court unless they are not
supported by the record." Id. (quotation and
citation omitted). It is our responsibility to ensure that
the trial court has applied the appropriate legal principles
to the record while still affording great weight to the
court's fact-finding ...