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, Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Accused Parents
Mont. Code Ann. § 41-3-425 provides that in abuse/neglect proceedings:
(1) Any party involved in a petition filed pursuant to 41-3-422 has the right to counsel in all proceedings held pursuant to the petition.
(2) Except as provided in subsections (3) and (4), the court shall immediately appoint the office of state public defender to assign counsel for:
(a) any indigent parent, guardian, or other person having legal custody of a child or youth in a removal, placement, or termination proceeding pursuant to 41-3-422, pending a determination of eligibility pursuant to 47-1-111.
A 2017 amendment to § 41-3-425 added that putative fathers must be successfully served and request appointment of counsel before counsel can be appointed, except as provided in the federal Indian Child Welfare Act or sections 1 through 18 of the Montana Child Welfare Act. Mont. Code Ann. § 41-3-425(4).
In addition, an amendment enacted in 2021 states that the court must hold a hearing within five business days of the child's removal from the home to determine whether there is probable cause to continue the removal [Mont. Code Ann. § 41-3-306(1)(a)], and the parties must be represented by counsel at this hearing. Mont. Code Ann. § 41-3-306(3). Although paragraph 7 of this section states that the emergency protective services hearing requirement does not apply to cases involving an Indian child who is subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act [Mont. Code Ann. § 41-3-306(7)], the Montana Supreme Court found this exception unconstitutional as a violation of the right to equal protection of the law under both the U.S. and Montana Constitutions. A.J.B. v. Mont. Eighteenth Judicial Dist. Ct., 2023 WL 195339 (Mont. 2023).
Finally, Mont. Code Ann. § 47-1-104(c) permits the court to appoint the public defender for the appeal.
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