Right to counsel

Key_development Question_mark

Litigation, Incarceration for Fees/Fines (incomplete)

Six years prior to the codification of Kentucky’s statutory right to counsel, the Kentucky Court of Appeals (at the time, the Kentucky Court of Appeals was the highest court in the state), in Wright v. Crawford, 401 S.W.2d 47 (Ky. App. 1966), found a non-statutory right to counsel in cases where a civil litigant faces the possibility of incarceration.  401 S.W.2d at 49 (finding that indigent defendant subjected to incarceration for failure to pay civil judgment was entitled to counsel on same terms as in criminal case where statute permitted imprisonment).  Although the Wright court said it was not going to “enter[] upon full consideration or discussion of whether ‘due process' demands appointment of counsel for an indigent litigant in a civil case,” the court nonetheless reasoned that “the litigant’s liberty is as surely impaired by” a civil judgment that imposes a jail sentence as by a criminal one.  Id. (internal citation omitted).  The case would likely apply to all contempt proceedings that result in incarceration.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes