Right to counsel

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Legislation, Termination of Parental Rights (State) - Birth Parents

Under the Illinois Juvenile Courts Act, which covers dependency and termination of parental rights, "the minor's parents, guardian, legal custodian or responsible relative who are parties respondent have ... the right to be represented by counsel." 705 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 405/1-5(1).  The statute goes on to state, "At the request of any party financially unable to employ counsel, with the exception of a foster parent permitted to intervene under this Section, the court shall appoint the Public Defender or such other counsel as the case may require." Id.  The right is applicable at "all stages." Id. ("Counsel appointed for the minor and any indigent party shall appear at all stages of the trial court proceeding, and such appointment shall continue through the permanency hearings and termination of parental rights proceedings subject to withdrawal, vacating of appointment, or substitution pursuant to Supreme Court Rules or the Code of Civil Procedure.").


See also In re Adoption of L.T.M., 824 N.E.2d 221, 230 (Ill. 2005) (in weighing whether parent in Adoption Act case has right to counsel on appeal, court notes that parent was “denied appointed counsel in his appeal as of right from that order, when he certainly would have had it under the Juvenile Court Act.”); see also In re Harrison v. Harrison, 458 N.E.2d 146, 150 (Ill. App. Ct. 1983) (finding right to counsel on appeal of termination of parental rights, based on predecessor statute).


This statutory right to counsel includes the right to effective assistance of counsel.  People v. Bernice T. (In re K.S.), 2015 IL App (1st) 150532-U, ¶ 98 (1st Dist. 2015) (unpublished) [citing In re C.C., 368 Ill. App. 3d 744, 747-48 (2006); In re M.F., 326 Ill. App. 3d 1110, 1119 (2002); In re D.M., 258 Ill. App. 3d 669, 673-74 (1994); In re R.G., 165 Ill. App. 3d 112, 127-28 (1988)].

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no