(a) Title. These rules shall be known as the CASA Local Rules for Cowlitz County, Washington.
(b) Scope. These rules shall be applicable to all dependency cases in Cowlitz County Juvenile Court. These cases include children who are alleged to be dependent, neglected, or abandoned; in all cases in which termination of parental rights is involved; or in any other appropriate dependency proceeding pending in Cowlitz County Juvenile Court. Once CASA has been appointed for a child(ren), that appointment will continue until further order of the Court irrespective of the increasing age of the child(ren).
(c) Application. These rules shall supplement the existing local rules and the Washington Juvenile Court Rules (JuCR) which shall apply in addition to these rules. These rules may be modified or waived by the presiding Juvenile Court Judge by special order when, in the opinion of said Judge, such waiver or modification is necessary in order to do justice, or to arrive at the equities of the case between, or among, the parties involved. Each person appearing in this court is charged with the knowledge of all applicable rules.
- Juvenile Rules Definitions. The definitions of JuCR 1.3 shall apply in these cases.
- "CASA" means The Cowlitz County CASA, which is the non-profit corporation that provides specially trained and sworn adults to the court as CASA staff/volunteers. It is the designated CASA organization for all Cowlitz County CASA cases. CASA also stands for "Court Appointed Special Advocates," which refers to the organization's staff/volunteers.
- A "CASA Volunteer" means a responsible adult who has been specially trained as a court appointed special advocate and who has taken a special oath from a Superior Court Judge. The person is charged with making recommendations in the form of reports and testimony to the judge regarding the best interests of the child(ren).
- "CASA Volunteer Affiliate" means a CASA volunteer who has met the state training requirements to perform the duties of a guardian ad litem in juvenile court dependency matters but who is required to perform these duties under direct supervision of a CASA volunteer mentor for a minimum of six (6) months.
- A "CASA Volunteer Certified" means a CASA volunteer who has met the state training requirements to perform the duties of a guardian ad litem in Juvenile Court dependency matters and who has successfully completed a minimum of six (6) months of direct supervision by a CASA volunteer mentor as a CASA volunteer affiliate.
- A qualified "CASA Volunteer Mentor" means a CASA volunteer who has performed the duties of a guardian ad litem as a CASA volunteer certified for a minimum of one (1) year and has been identified by the Cowlitz County CASA as a mentor.
- "CASA Report" means any report prepared by CASA addressed to the judge giving a thorough background investigation of the child(ren), including, but not limited to, information about the parents, relatives, and others who have knowledge about or concerning the child(ren). The report contains advisory recommendations as to the best interest of the child(ren).
- "CASA Order" means the order signed by a judge, or a court commissioner, which appoints CASA as guardian ad litem. The order remains effective until CASA is ordered released from the child(ren)'s case or the case has been fully concluded.
- "CASA Program Director" means the executive director of the Cowlitz County CASA, as hired by its board of directors, or as designated by its board of directors. The CASA Program Director is the person charged with the supervision of all CASA staff/volunteers, CASA reports, and CASA cases.
(e) Establishment of CASA Cases and Orders.
- Requests for CASA. The court may appoint CASA upon its own initiative, or a request for appointment of CASA to a case or for a child(ren) may be made by any person or agency having knowledge of facts which indicate that CASA is appropriate. A request for CASA may be made by motion filed by any person or agency and a copy served upon CASA. The court clerk shall accept the filing of the motion and note upon it the date and time of filing.
- CASA Order. The CASA order may be signed by the judge or a court commissioner in any case. The order shall be effective when signed and shall continue in full force and effect until a subsequent order is signed which orders CASA released from the case or the case if fully concluded. CASA shall continue to serve on a pending case so long as the child(ren) continues under the jurisdiction of the court. The CASA order will also be served upon all parties or their attorney of record. Each time CASA is appointed, a copy of the petition and a notice of the next scheduled hearing date, time, and location shall be provided to CASA by the moving party.
- Scope of the CASA Order. Upon entry of a CASA order appointing CASA to a case, all persons and agencies are under an obligation to cooperate with CASA to assist in determining the best interest of the child(ren). The CASA volunteer shall have access to the child(ren) (including any child(ren) in detention), the parents, any caretaker, or any other agency or party having information related to the child(ren). CASA has the right to inspect and/or copy any documents deemed relevant to the child(ren)'s situation. CASA shall maintain any information received during an investigation in a confidential manner. CASA shall not disclose any such information except in reports to the Court and to parties to the proceeding, unless disclosure of any information has been limited by the Court pursuant to CASA Rule 5(c). Nothing contained in these rules shall be construed as permitting any CASA staff/volunteers to practice law before the Court.
(f) Guardian ad Litem Appointments.
- Legal Proceedings. The CASA staff/volunteer may fully participate in any proceedings involving the child(ren) for whom CASA has been appointed. If called as a witness by the Court or any party, CASA staff/volunteer shall testify as a witness in any proceeding.
- Compensation. Individual CASA volunteers shall not receive any compensation from the Court or from any party to the proceedings. The CASA volunteer serves the Court and as such shall receive no compensation or remuneration.
- Release. If CASA wishes to be released from a case, CASA shall so motion the Court.
(g) CASA Court Attendance and Reports.
- Attending Hearings. CASA is charged with the notice of all hearings which involve the child(ren) assigned, and will attend all such hearings. In the event of a conflict, CASA may request a continuance for good cause shown or may be excused by the Court from appearing. Any party may call the CASA staff/volunteer as a witness in the proceeding. CASA staff/volunteer may be compelled to attend by any party with the service of a subpoena for the CASA staff/volunteer, made by service upon the staff/volunteer or by serving the CASA Program Director, giving at least five (5) days' notice prior to the hearing, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays.
- Filing Reports. The CASA representative shall, absent special circumstances or unless excused by the judge, submit a written report at least five (5) working days prior to each dispositional or review hearing involving the child(ren). The report shall be addressed to the judge and shall contain such attachments and documents as are relevant to the proceedings. The report, when filed, shall become a permanent part of the applicable Juvenile Court legal file. The staff/volunteer shall sign the report, but not under oath. The Court is in no way bound by or obligated to adopt any CASA recommendations, the report being advisory in nature.
- Inspection of Reports; Confidentiality. Generally, the child(ren), the attorney, the parent, guardian or legal guardian, and any state or other agency involved in the proceedings, shall be entitled to inspect the CASA report, and all documents attached thereto, except that information protected from disclosure by law. The Court shall issue such orders as are necessary to maintain the confidential nature of information so classified.
[Adopted May 1, 1994; amended September 1, 2000; amended September 1, 2005; amended September 1, 2006; amended September 1, 2012; amended September 1, 2018; amended September 1, 2019]