GUARDIAN AD LITEM - by Dale E. Johnson

There is a bill circulating in the Colorado Legislature which would set statutory standards for appointing a Guardian ad Litem (“GAL”) for an adult.  The standards the courts current use have been created via judicial decisions, including IRM Sorensen (2007 Colorado Court of Appeals).  The current draft of the proposed bill would expand the authority of the court to “sua sponte” appoint a Guardian ad Litem for a party.  This means the court could appoint a Guardian ad Litem without waiting for a party to file a motion.  The bill provides five different grounds for appointing a Guardian ad Litem.  One of these is that the litigant is “incapable, because of a mental impairment, of weighing the advice of counsel or directing counsel on the particular course to pursue in his or her own “interest.”  This is a highly subjective assessment of a litigant’s level of functioning for a court to make on its own without an attorney for a party bringing the matter before the court.

The Colorado Legislative session is nearing a close.  It will be interesting to see if this bill is passed into law.