Discretionary appointment of counsel - child support contempt
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, Civil Contempt in Family Court
In Duval v. Duval, 322 A.2d 1, 2 (N.H. 1974), the New Hampshire Supreme Court stated that if there is a right to counsel in a civil contempt action, its source must be found in the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment." The court went on to hold:
In some nonsupport contempt cases, which are not routine in nature, there may be issues of sufficient complexity so as to require the defendant to be assisted by counsel for a competent presentation of their merits. Questions such as whether the defendant had a reasonable opportunity to present his case in prior proceedings or whether he has available certain defenses such as res judicata or the statute of limitations could baffle and confuse persons who are inexperienced in the law, and it would be unfair to deny such persons the benefit of counsel if they were unable to retain a lawyer because of their financial condition.
Thus, the court held that although a right of counsel in was not established as a matter of law, "the trial court may in its discretion appoint counsel to assist an indigent defendant to present his case in a complicated nonsupport contempt hearing."
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: discretionary Qualified: yes