ABA adopts NCCRC-authored resolution on right to counsel

02/05/2018, Bar Effort, Civil Contempt in Family Court

Back in 2006, the ABA adopted what is now a well-known resolution endorsing the right to counsel “where basic human needs are at stake, such as those involving shelter, sustenance, safety, health or child custody …”  Although the list of 5 areas was intended to be illustrative, it often is perceived to be the defined list of when the right to counsel should attach.  Notably absent from that list is physical liberty (i.e., incarceration or commitment), most likely because it was assumed back in 2006 that Lassiter had essentially established a right to counsel whenever physical liberty was at risk, but then Turner v. Rogers (2011) held otherwise.  


To address this, the NCCRC authored Resolution 114 in cooperation with the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants (SCLAID), which calls for a right to counsel whenever physical liberty is at stake, no matter whether it’s civil or criminal and regardless of whether the plaintiff is the state or not.  Resolution 114 was formally adopted at the ABA 2018 Midyear Meeting, and has since been adopted by the Philadelphia Bar Association.


The ABA Journal and Legal Intelligencer covered the resolution's passage.



The NCCRC researched and wrote the resolution, and worked with the ABA SCLAID to submit it.