Bill would amend standards for appointing civil counsel in federal court

02/28/2020, Legislation, All Basic Human Needs

HR 6037, the Fair Access to Legal Counsel Act of 2020, was introduced in February 2020.  It would amend the federal statute to provide more guidance for situations where federal judges opt to appoint counsel for civil litigants on a discretionary basis, in order to correct situations where judges in some circuits frequently abuse their discretion.  It would also give judges the power to "appoint" counsel rather than simply "request" it.  The NCCRC worked with the bill's lead sponsor, Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), for several years to get the bill introduced.


You can read the press release from Rep. Sarbanes.  The bill was co-sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), House Judiciary Committee Vice Chair Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Penn.), Access to Counsel Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.), House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet Chairman Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Chair Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.).



The NCCRC worked with the primary bill sponsor on the language of the bill.