Right to counsel

Litigation, Civil Commitment

In Lynch v. Baxley, a federal court cited to decisions from other federal courts to hold that “[t]he subject of an involuntary civil commitment proceeding has the right to the effective assistance of counsel at all significant stages of the commitment process ... Further, he has the right to be advised of his right to counsel, and to the appointment of counsel if indigent.” 386 F. Supp. 378, 389 (M.D. Ala. 1974).  The court added,“The right to counsel is a right to representative counsel occupying a traditional adversarial role.  Where state law requires or permits the appointment of a guardian ad litem, such appointment shall be deemed to satisfy the constitutional right to counsel if, but only if, the appointed guardian is a licensed attorney and occupies a truly adversary position.” Id


The injunction implementing this ruling was ultimately vacated in Lynch v. Sessions, 942 F. Supp. 1419 (M.D. Ala. Sept. 30, 1996) due to the enactment of Ala. Code § 22-52-4(a).

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes