Acting on CT legislative task force suggestions, new bills would provide new rights to counsel

01/20/2017, Legislation, All Basic Human Needs

In 2016, Connecticut Senate Bill 426 created a new legislative task force to explore the right to counsel in civil cases.  After meeting several times over the course of the year, the Task Force issued its Final Report in December 2016.  Among other recommendations, the Report called for the state to 


Establish a statutory right to civil counsel in three crucial areas where the fiscal and social cost of likely injustice significantly outweighs the fiscal cost of civil counsel:
a. Restraining orders under General Statutes § 46b-15;
b. Child custody and detained removal (deportation) proceedings;
c. Defense of residential evictions.

 

The Report suggested the first step in implementation is "establishing a right to counsel pilot program for at least one or more of three areas of critical need: restraining order, family unity (child custody and detained removal

proceedings), and residential eviction cases. "  Connecticut News Junkie has more about the release of the Report.  The Task Force had the backing of many Connecticut leaders, including the Connecticut Bar Association President, the Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court, the Senate President, and the dean of the University of Connecticut School of Law.  You can read more about the Task Force at Fox 61Hartford Courant, and Caifornia Courts Monitor, Also, you can check out the website of the Task Force.

 

In 2017, two bills emerged from the Task Force's recommendations.  SB 496 would implement the recommendations of the legislative Task Force to Improve Access to Counsel in Civil Matters, which would create a right to counsel for cases involving restraining orders, evictions, detained removal, and child custody.  This bill was introduced and referred to the Joint Committee on Judiciary on 1/20/17.  SB 364 would create a pilot project for representation in domestic violence matters.  This bill was introduced and referred to the Joint Committee on Judiciary on 1/19/17, a committee substitute was introduced on 3/20/17, and a public hearing occurred on 3/27/17.

 

Nccrc_involvement_icon NCCRC staff provided research support for the task force bill and advised members of the task force.