NJ appellate court: counsel required in administrative abuse/neglect cases
While a state may have many statutes, court decisions, or court rules governing appointment of counsel for a particular subject area, a "Key Development" is a statute/decision/rule that prevails over the others (example: a state high court decision finding a categorical right to counsel in guardianships cases takes precedence over a statute saying appointment in guardianship cases is discretionary).
06/17/2019, Litigation, Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Accused Parents
In DCPP v. L.O., 213 A.3d 187 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2019), the Superior Court (Appellate Division) has held that because the determinations made in an administrative proceeding to determine parental abuse/neglect implicate "consequences of magnitude", the parents are entitled to appointed counsel for that administrative proceeding as well as an appeal to the Superior Court. The "consequences of magnitude" test is specific to New Jersey.
In reaching this conclusion, the court relied on the fact that New Jersey parents are entitled to counsel if the State chooses to use a judicial forum to adjudicate abuse/neglect rather than an administrative one, that a substantiated finding leads to a permanent inclusion in the Child Abuse Registry (which can affect the parent's later ability to foster children or obtain certain employment, as well as subject a parent to a termination of parental rights action), and that there is an imbalance of power between the State and the parent in the proceeding. Although the court conceded that parental rights were not directly threatened in the administrative proceeding, it observed that "the adjudication itself may play a role in a future infringement or termination of the parental relationship."
If "yes", the established right to counsel or discretionary appointment of counsel is limited in some way, including any of: the only authority is a lower/intermediate court decision or a city council, not a high court or state legislature; there has been a subsequent case that has cast doubt; a statute is ambiguous; or the right or discretionary appointment is not for all types of individuals or proceedings within that category.
Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no
The NCCRC contributed to an amicus brief filed by the ACLU of New Jersey.