Section 26-2A-135

Procedure concerning hearing and order on original petition.

(a) Upon receipt of a petition for appointment of a conservator or other protective order because of minority, the court shall set a date for hearing. If the court determines at any time in the proceeding that the interests of the minor are or may be inadequately represented, it may appoint an attorney to represent the minor, giving consideration to the choice of the minor if 14 or more years of age. An attorney appointed by the court to represent a minor may be granted the powers and duties of a guardian ad litem.

(b) Upon receipt of a petition for appointment of a conservator or other protective order for reasons other than minority, the court shall set a date for hearing. Unless the person to be protected has chosen counsel, the court shall appoint an attorney to represent the person who may be granted the powers and duties of a guardian ad litem. If the alleged disability is mental illness, mental deficiency, physical illness or disability, physical or mental infirmities accompanying advanced age, chronic use of drugs, or chronic intoxication, the court must direct that the person to be protected be examined by a physician or other qualified person designated by the court, preferably one who is not connected with any institution in which the person is a patient or is detained. The court may send a court representative to interview the person to be protected. The court representative may be a guardian ad litem or an officer or employee of the court.

(c) The court may utilize, as an additional court representative, the service of any public or charitable agency to evaluate the condition of the person to be protected and make appropriate recommendations to the court.

(d) The person to be protected is entitled to be present at the hearing in person. When the person to be protected is not present in person at the hearing, the court, before proceeding at the hearing in the person's absence, must determine that the person's absence is in the best interest of the person to be protected. At the request of the person to be protected, the person is entitled to be represented by counsel, at the person's expense, to present evidence, to cross-examine witnesses, including any court-appointed physician or other qualified person and any court representative, and upon demand to trial by jury as provided in Section 26-2A-35. The issue may be determined at a closed hearing if the person to be protected or counsel for the person so requests.

(e) Any person may apply for permission to participate in the proceeding and the court may grant the request, with or without hearing, upon determining that the best interest of the person to be protected will be served thereby. The court may attach appropriate conditions to the permission.

(f) After hearing, upon finding that a basis for the appointment of a conservator or other protective order has been established, the court shall make an appointment or other appropriate protective order.

(Acts 1987, No. 87-590, p. 975, §2-306.)