Tenth Circuit Presiding Judge Rachel Bringer Shepherd announced that more than 25 attorneys from eight Northeast Missouri counties attended the ninth annual training for attorneys appointed to represent children in need. The training was held at the Marion County Courthouse in Hannibal on Friday, June 21 and a video replay was shown at the Hannibal Courthouse on Wednesday, June 26.
This year's speakers included Dr. Jeff Evans, a local physician, foster parent, and guardian, who spoke about the need for effective guardians ad litem and the challenging expectations placed upon them by courts, foster parents and children. In addition, J.C. Weyand, the Tenth Circuit chief juvenile officer, spoke about the role of guardians ad litem in child abuse and neglect cases. The final speaker was Donna Cash, with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, who gave a presentation entitled, "Supporting the Education of Homeless Students Under the Every Student Succeeds Act." Cash explained the definition of "homeless student" under federal law, and she described resources available to school districts and attorneys to help the students obtain an education. Attorneys who attended the training are certified to be appointed as guardians ad litem until June 30, 2020, and they receive 4.3 hours in free credit for continuing legal education and 1.0 hour for free ethics continuing education.
Although the tornado sirens sounded during the training on June 21, the speakers continued their presentations in the basement of the courthouse until it was safe to return to the second floor courtroom. On June 26, Shepherd hosted a video replay of the training for attorneys who were unable to attend the June 21 event.
“I am very grateful for the willingness of Dr. Evans, CJO Weyand and Mrs. Donna Cash to take time to speak with our local attorneys about current issues involving children in need and for their flexibility in moving their presentations to the basement when necessary. I am also very grateful for the willingness of our local attorneys to participate in this training to ensure that children are receiving high-quality representation from attorneys meeting state certification requirements,” Shepherd said.