from the Iowa District Court for Mahaska County, Rose Ann
Mefford, District Associate Judge.
public defender appeals the district court's decision
ordering it to pay the court-appointed fees in a
Johnson Jr., State Public Defender, and William L. Bushell,
Assistant State Public Defender, Des Moines, for appellant.
L. Greenwood, Ottumwa, appellee.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Doyle and McDonald, JJ.
State Public Defender (SPD) appeals the juvenile court's
decision ordering the SPD to pay the court-appointed attorney
fees of Nicole Greenwood, who was appointed a guardian ad
litem (GAL) in a child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) case.
Specifically, the SPD asserts the juvenile court incorrectly
concluded the work Greenwood performed preparing guardianship
paperwork was within the scope of her court-appointed work as
the GAL in the CINA case. The SPD asserts it does not have
statutory or administrative rule authority to pay Greenwood
for the work she performed establishing the guardianship in
probate court. Greenwood defends the juvenile court's
decision. Unfortunately, the facts of this case demonstrate
but one example of the broad spectrum of possible legal
services undertaken by attorneys representing indigents in
juvenile court. What an attorney needs to do for the client,
or is ordered to do by the court, is not always work that is
compensable under the Iowa Code. Because we agree the SPD is
not authorized to pay for the work at issue, we reverse the
juvenile court's decision.
Background Facts and Proceedings.
was appointed as GAL for three minor children in their
combined CINA cases in December 2014. Eventually, the
juvenile court determined a guardianship with the
children's grandparents was in the children's best
interests, and in February 2016, the juvenile court ordered
Greenwood to prepare guardianship paperwork. Greenwood
complied with the court's order, preparing and filing the
necessary documents with the probate court. After the
guardianship case was opened, the juvenile court transferred
jurisdiction to the probate court and closed the CINA cases
because the permanency goal of a guardianship with relative
placement had been achieved.
Greenwood submitted an invoice for her work as the GAL to the
SPD. The SPD rejected 3.5 hours Greenwood spent preparing the
guardianship paperwork. Greenwood filed an application for
review of the claim denial with the juvenile court that had
ordered her to complete the guardianship work, and after a
hearing, the juvenile court granted Greenwood's request,
ordering the SPD to pay for the 3.5 hours. In granting
Greenwood's application, the juvenile court stated:
The Court finds that GAL Greenwood submitted a claim of
$564.86 to the Office of the Public Defender for legal work
done on behalf of the children in this case while the case
was pending, including preparation of Guardianship paperwork
to assist these children in achieving the permanency goal. On
February 2, 2016, this Court ordered Greenwood to prepare the
paperwork. Greenwood's bill was reasonable for the work
done and Greenwood was representing indigent juveniles
(Children in Need of Assistance) in a juvenile court
proceeding, . . . pursuant to Juvenile Court Order. The
juvenile cases were able to besuccessfully closed, with the
permanency goal achieved, on June 20, 2016.
. . . .
The State Public Defender's denial of Greenwood's Fee
Claim is overruled. The State Public Defender shall pay the
unpaid portion of the claimant's compensation and costs
incurred while representing ...