Right to counsel
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).
Legislation, Termination of Parental Rights (State) - Birth Parents
A Connecticut statute guarantees counsel in termination proceedings for indigent parents who appear without counsel to “a hearing held on any petition for the termination of parental rights ... filed in the Superior Court under section 17a-112 [abuse/neglect].” Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 45a-717 (a)-(b). The court is obligated to inform the unrepresented parent of their right to counsel, "and upon request, if he or she is unable to pay for counsel, shall appoint counsel to represent such respondent parent.” Id.
The statute adds that “[n]o respondent parent may waive counsel unless the court has first explained the nature and meaning of a petition for the termination of parental rights.” Id. § 45a-717(b).
The right to counsel also includes the right to competent counsel. State v. Anonymous, 425 A.2d 939, 943 (Conn. 1979) (in a TPR case, holding that “Where … as here, a statute … or practice book rule … mandates the assistance of counsel, it is implicit that this means competent counsel.”).
Regarding the right to counsel for parents who are absent from the proceedings, the Connecticut Supreme Court has stated that a trial court “should seriously consider the appointment of legal counsel to represent an absent parent in proceedings for the termination of parental rights in those cases in which the parent has received only constructive notice of the pendency of the proceedings.” In re Baby Girl B., 618 A.2d 1, 18 n.22 (Conn. 1992).
As to payment of the appointed attorney, Conn. Stat. § 45a-717(b) states:
If the respondent parent is unable to pay for such respondent's own counsel or if the child or the parent or guardian of the child is unable to pay for the child's counsel, in the case of a Superior Court matter, the reasonable compensation of counsel appointed for the respondent parent or the child shall be established by, and paid from funds appropriated to, the Judicial Department and, in the case of a Probate Court matter, the reasonable compensation of counsel appointed for the respondent parent or the child shall be established by, and paid from funds appropriated to, the Judicial Department, however, in the case of a Probate Court matter, if funds have not been included in the budget of the Judicial Department for such purposes, such compensation shall be established by the Probate Court Administrator and paid from the Probate Court Administration Fund.
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