The Holley Factors and Statutory Guidelines for Best Interest Analysis
The Holley factors and statutory guidelines for best interest analysis provide the CASA with a road map of the evidence that needs to be brought out in court to ensure that the best interests of the child are addressed by the court.
A CASA appointed as Guardian Ad Litem is charged with the responsibility “to represent the best interests of the child.” Family Code § 107.001(5). A CASA may carry out these duties by testifying in court concerning the “best interest of the child.” Family Code § 107.002(e).
The courts commonly look to a set of guidelines, called the “Holley factors”, in evaluating the best interest of a child.
Matters in which you may be asked to give testimony:
- Services provided and completed by parents
- Visits and parents’ contact with child
- Facts to support permanency (return to parents, termination, etc.)
- Have a complete and thorough understanding of the facts of the case
- Create a timeline of events in the case
- Know and communicate with all parties to the suit
What do I do when an attorney makes an objection?
When an attorney makes an OBJECTION, the judge will either:
- SUSTAIN: No, you MAY NOT answer.
- OVERRULE: Yes, you MAY answer.
General testimony Guidelines
- Relax and breathe
- Listen closely and actively
- Take your time
- Answer only what is asked; be concise and precise
- Tell the whole truth
- Stop talking when an objection is made
- Facts and details are better than conclusions
- Ask for clarification or rephrasing if you do not understand
- If you do not know the answer, say so
- Be courteous
- Talk loudly enough
- Give audible answer; don’t shake your head
- Look at jury when testifying
- Give personal opinions
- Use CPS jargon or acronyms
- Try to understand where the questioning is going
- Make assumptions or generalizations
- Be afraid to give credit where it’s due
- Take it personally
- Worry about how your answers appear
- Stress about cross examination too much (attorney will clarify later)
- Lose your temper
- Argue with the lawyer
- Look to the lawyer for help
Tips for testifying in court video series
CASA also has the 4-part drip learning video series presented by Rob Johnson with additional tips for testifying in court on our YouTube channel. You can find them here:
If you are nervous about testifying, talk to your supervisor in advance about your concerns.
Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth – even if it is detrimental to your case.