Dear Parents in Juvenile CINA (Child in Need of Assistance) cases:
Here are some things you might like to know before heading into court.
- Iowa practices a “one family, one judge” That means that barring any unforeseen circumstances, your hearings will be in the same courtroom, with the same judge every time.
- Parking can be a challenge downtown, so plan to arrive early. The on street, metered parking near the courthouse now has a four-hour limit, which should cover most hearings you would need to attend in juvenile court. You will not be able to go “feed the meter” during a hearing, so ask your attorney how long the hearing will be so you can plan appropriately. Click here for parking ramp locations, and here if you are interested in a Smart Card parking card. The advantage to the card is that you can put the maximum time into the meter, and then “reload” whatever time is left back on to your card.
- Children can attend their hearings; in some cases, the judge may require you to bring them. If they attend, you may want to have another adult there who can take the child out if the judge asks you to do that (if, for example, the judge wants to hear information that s/he does not believe would be appropriate for the child to hear). Let me know if you plan to bring the kids.
- You will sit at counsel table with your attorney. There are microphones at counsel table that are fairly sensitive, however, so if you need to speak to your attorney privately, you may want to turn away from the microphone and speak quietly.
- If you are incarcerated, you may still be allowed to attend the hearing in person or by telephone. If you attend in person, you will be accompanied by law enforcement, who will remain in the courtroom. You may be allowed to meet me prior to the hearing in a secure room. You will be allowed to sit at counsel table with me.
- Juvenile court is a bit more informal than other courts. The judge may ask you some questions. One of the questions s/he may ask is if there are any other services you need to be successful. These may be financial, or services such as therapy, or even things like bus tokens to get to various appointments. You can also talk to me about what you need.
- Wear your “poker face.” Do not allow anyone to provoke you in the courtroom, do not “get into it” with the other parent (or anyone else), and do not give people the “stink eye” in court. The judge will see all this, and will not like it. In other words, be civil and polite, in order to give the judge the best impression of you possible.
- As your attorney, I am your advocate; if you’re having trouble with something, or are having trouble getting hold of DHS, contact me and let me know. Yes, I represent you in court, but I can do that much more effectively if I know what is going on beyond the courtroom.
- If you fail a drug test, quit going to therapy, or fail to do something else the court or DHS has asked you to do, tell me when it happens (please don’t wait until your hearing!). Except for very limited circumstances, I cannot reveal to anyone what you tell me because of attorney/client privilege (though these things will likely come out anyway), but I can help you get back on track faster.
- You don’t have to be perfect. But you do have to substantially comply with what you are being asked to do.
Other questions? You can email me, contact me through your MyCase portal, or talk to me when we meet before your hearing. Write down your questions as they come up so you don’t forget; don’t ever feel like any question is too silly to ask. It’s important that you be as well-informed as possible throughout the process—it’s your case, after all, and I want the best outcome possible for you.