A “Guardian Ad Litem” is usually a lawyer appointed to meet with injury victims who wish to compromise their lawsuit who is able to then explain to the court, independently of their own counsel, why a settlement of their case is or is not in their best interests.  Following up on the ABRAMS LANDAU Herndon law firm’s post on new procedures for Guardian ad Litem (“GAL”) in personal injury settlements, there will now be a new process for GALs in ALL civil cases.  The judges of the Circuit Court have decided to extend the newly adopted system for the appointment of guardians ad litem in cases involving infant settlement and wrongful death settlements to the appointment of guardians ad litem in all civil cases before the Circuit Court.

Beginning this month, counsel appearing in cases which require the appointment of a guardian ad litem (GAL), including but not limited to adoptions, cases involving persons under a disability (such as a truck crash defendant who may be in jail or was rendered mentally impaired due to injuries sustained in the car wreck), guardianships and conservatorships, should submit to the court at the time of the filing of the petition or complaint a proposed order appointing a guardian ad litem that leaves blank the name of the guardian.  A judge of the court will then select the guardian ad litem from a list maintained by the court.

This procedure will enhance the Court’s ability to properly ascertain that the interests of persons unrepresented by counsel will be adequately observed.   Also, this procedure will enhance the Court’s ability to assess the recommendations of the guardians ad litem and to assure the impartiality of the GAL.

For cases involving juveniles (excluding infants in settlements) and incapacitated adults, the Court will appoint GALs who are certified by the Supreme Court of Virginia.  Counsel who are interested in being included on the list of approved guardians ad litem for civil cases should indicate that interest, along with indicia of certification, by writing to Chief Judge Dennis Smith.

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