Hawaii Supreme Court says parents have right to counsel in 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).
01/06/2014, Litigation, Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Accused Parents
In In re T.M., 319 P.3d 338 (Hawaii 2014), the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that all parents have a right to counsel in abuse/neglect and termination of parental rights proceedings under the due process clause of the Hawaii Constitution. Previously, appointment of counsel was on a case-by-case basis as per statute. Although the petition to the Court argued that the trial court abused its discretion in not appointing counsel for the mother in question, the amicus brief drafted by the NCCRC and filed by the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, Hawaii ACLU Foundation, and Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice urged the Court to take up the right to counsel for all parents. In its opinion, the Court relied on the amicus brief's reasoning to find the right to counsel.
For more on the case, including media coverage of the decision, check out our bibliography section on T.M.
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
|NCCRC recruited the amici, co-drafted the amicus brief, and worked with petitioner on oral argument.|