2018 Louisiana Laws
Revised Statutes
TITLE 15 - Criminal Procedure
RS 15:185.3 - Indigent Parents' Representation Program; duties of the board; subject to appropriation

Universal Citation: LA Rev Stat § 15:185.3 (2018)

§185.3. Indigent Parents' Representation Program; duties of the board; subject to appropriation

            A.(1) Subject to appropriation, or the availability of other monies made available to the program, the board shall administer a program to provide representation, including curatorship appointments, of indigent or absent parents in child abuse and neglect cases as required by the Louisiana Children's Code.

            (2) Except for the inherent regulatory authority of the Louisiana Supreme Court provided for in Article V, Section 5 of the Constitution of Louisiana, regarding the regulation of the practice of law, the Louisiana Public Defender Board or any successor to that board, shall have all regulatory authority, control, supervision, and jurisdiction, including auditing and enforcement, and all power incidental or necessary thereto to administer a program to provide for the delivery of indigent or absent parent representation throughout the courts of the state of Louisiana.

            B. In the administration of the Indigent Parents' Representation Program, the board shall:

            (1) Regularly collect detailed data from judicial districts, where applicable, relating to workload, resources, employees, and expenditures relating to representation of indigent or absent parents.

            (2) Review and evaluate the operations of the program and emphasize special training for counsel representing indigent or absent parents.

            (3) Review and approve an annual budget for the program.

            (4) Review and approve an annual report on the operation of the program and submit such report to the legislature, the governor, and the chief justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court.

            (5) Review and approve the strategic plan and budget proposals submitted by the district public defenders on behalf of the districts.

            (6) Make an annual report to the legislature regarding the state of the board's operations and the status of representation of indigent or absent parent services it regulates. Such report shall include at a minimum:

            (a) Recommendations for all needed changes in the law regarding the board or any regulated activity.

            (b) A complete report on the receipt and expenditure of all funds received by the board and the regional offices, where applicable, including district level data.

            (c) Comprehensive workload data.

            (7) Ensure that the policies, procedures, and public pronouncements of the board recognize the unique and critical role of parents' attorneys in safeguarding fundamental rights and promoting the safety, permanency, and well-being of children in the child welfare system.

            (8) Promote accessible child welfare, family preservation, medical, educational, substance abuse treatment, and mental health resources for children and their parents in the child welfare system.

            (9) Take such actions as necessary and appropriate to secure private and state, federal, or other public funds to help support the program.

            (10) Institute or cause to be instituted such legal proceedings as may be necessary to enforce and give effect to any of the duties or powers of the program.

            (11) Provide for the employing or contracting with and training of attorneys and other professional and nonprofessional staff that may be necessary to carry out the functions of the program. All attorneys representing indigent or absent parents through this program shall be licensed to practice law in Louisiana and qualified in accordance with standards and guidelines adopted by rule of the board.

            (12) Have the ability to contract with organizations or individuals for the provision of legal services for indigent or absent parents in child abuse and neglect cases.

            (13) Administer an efficient and effective statewide program for the representation, including curatorship appointments of indigent or absent parents which safeguards their rights and facilitates timely and fair decision making concerning children's safety, permanency, and well-being.

            (14)(a) Establish, and modify as necessary, a plan of organization to conduct the business of regulating and controlling the delivery of services for the representation of indigent or absent parents under its jurisdiction efficiently and thoroughly.

            (b) The plan of organization shall provide for the capacity to:

            (i) Administer the granting of contracts.

            (ii) Analyze and review investigative and audit reports and findings.

            (iii) Provide for enforcement of board rules as is necessary for the efficient and thorough regulation and governance of representation of indigent or absent parent services under its jurisdiction.

            (15) Develop and disseminate standards, procedures, and policies that will ensure that the representation, including curatorship appointments, of indigent or absent parents is provided consistently throughout the state.

            (16) Prepare and submit to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget on or before March first of each year an annual financial report which outlines the expenditures of local, state, and federal funds for the previous calendar year.

            (17) Prepare as of June first of each year, an estimate of unexpended balances in every account in the custody of the board and submit a copy thereof to the governor, the legislative auditor, and the legislative fiscal officer.

            (18) Develop and maintain a comprehensive information system on the receipt of revenues by the board, and the districts from local, state, and federal sources, as well as the expenditure of these revenues, and submit a summary of this information annually to the legislature.

            (19) Assign appropriate staff to:

            (a) Coordinate training of attorneys representing indigent or absent parents in current aspects of criminal and civil law and procedure involving the representation of indigent or absent parents.

            (b) Establish and supervise a training and performance evaluation program for attorneys and non-attorney staff members and contractors.

            (c) Establish specialized training and educational programs for all attorneys providing indigent or absent parent representation. Such programs shall not be "continuing legal education" as mandated by the Louisiana State Bar Association. The training sponsored by the state program shall be practical training based on models in other states, including trial advocacy and civil and criminal procedure in the nature of mock trials, working seminars, and mentoring. Such educational programs shall also include annual educational programs and introductory educational programs for attorneys prior to providing indigent or absent parent representation.

            (d) Consolidate information on important aspects of public defense and provide for a collection of official opinions, legal briefs, and other relevant information.

            (e) Provide assistance with research or briefs and provide other technical assistance requested by a public defender providing public defender services.

            (f) Apply for and assist in the disbursement of federal funds or other grant money to aid the statewide Indigent Parents' Representation Program, provided that such gifts, grants, and donations are not otherwise prohibited by law or rule.

            (g) Assist the district public defenders in the compliance with standards and guidelines adopted by the board pursuant to this Section. The board staff shall assist the district public defenders with implementation of standards and guidelines and supervision policy and procedures to verify compliance.

            (20) Work with representatives of all three branches of state government and child welfare stakeholders, including judges, social service personnel, district attorneys, the Child Advocacy Program, court-appointed special advocate programs (CASA), service providers, and others to promote sound child welfare policies and practice.

            C. During the incremental implementation period, the board shall continue working in conjunction with the Task Force on Legal Representation in Child Protection Cases to transform the existing legal representation system for children and indigent parents in child abuse and neglect cases to a more efficient and effective statewide system and to facilitate securing of necessary funding for the system. This transformation includes the board developing standards and oversight mechanisms for providing for quality representation of indigent parents and determining how funding currently administered by the Department of Children and Family Services, office of children and family services, for representation of indigent parents and children shall be redistributed to the board and the Child Advocacy Program of the Mental Health Advocacy Service by July 1, 2012.

            D. The powers and duties of the board provided for by this Section shall be in addition to the powers and duties provided for in R.S. 15:147 or as otherwise provided by law.

            Acts 2007, No. 95, §2; Acts 2008, No. 220, §6, eff. June 14, 2008; Acts 2016, No. 407, §2, eff. June 5, 2016.

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