Discretionary appointment of counsel

Legislation, Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Accused Parents

The court may appoint counsel for any indigent parent in an abuse/neglect case, and for other parties if it is in the child's best interest. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 587A-17(a).  Note, however, that this discretionary system has been superseded by a constitutional ruling establishing a right to counsel for parents in all such proceedings.  See In re T.M., 319 P.3d 338 (Haw. 2014).


It should also be noted that attorneys’ fees in child protective proceedings are capped at $3,000 before disposition and $1000 for post-disposition review.  Haw. Rev. Stat. § 571-87(b) (2008).  Capping the compensation at such a low amount significantly reduces the effectiveness of the right to counsel.  Laura K. Abel and Max Rettig, State Statutes Providing for a Right to Counsel in Civil Cases, Clearinghouse Rev. J. Poverty L. & Pol’y. (July-August 2006). 

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no