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).
Litigation, Termination of Parental Rights (Private) - Birth Parents
In a decision that involved the termination of a father’s parental rights pursuant to a contested adoption proceeding, the court of appeals in the Second District found that “an indigent legal parent is entitled to appointed counsel in an adoption proceeding that involves the involuntary termination of his or her parental rights[.]” O.A.H. v. R.L.A., 712 So. 2d 4, 4 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1998). In O.A.H., the court found that although the applicable statute pursuant to which the father’s parental rights were to be terminated (Fla. Stat. § 63.072) (repealed in 2001) did not contain an express statutory right to counsel, id. at 5, under Florida’s Due Process Clause, the father was nonetheless entitled to counsel, “when the proceedings can result in a permanent loss of parental rights.” Id. at 7.
In reaching its decision, the court in O.A.H. also found that an adoption proceeding, and the resulting termination of parental rights, is not purely a private dispute and that the State has exclusive authority to terminate the legal relationship of a parent and child, and that this authority is a “state action sufficient to invoke due process concerns.” Id. at 6. Regarding state action, the court relied upon U.S. Supreme Court precedent in M.L.B. v. S.L.J. See id. (citing 519 U.S. 102, 117 n.8 (1996)).
See also M.E.K. v. R.L.K., 921 So. 2d 787, 790 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2006) (Fifth District holds that trial court in adoption case erred in following Lassiter instead of O.A.H.); In re M.C., Jr., 899 So. 2d 486, 487 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2005) (reaffirming O.A.H.); G.C. v. W.J., 917 So. 2d 998, 999 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2005) (First District case where court followed O.A.H.).
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: yes