Right to counsel
Litigation, Sexually Dangerous Persons - Commitment
In Civil Commitment of D.L., 797 A.2d 166 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2002), the court held that an indigent sex offender committed under the New Jersey Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA) has a right to appointed counsel on appeal under the due process clause of the federal constitution. The SVPA statute provides for the appointment of counsel at commitment hearings, but is "silent regarding the appointment of counsel on appeal." The court determined that indigents appealing involuntary commitment under the SVPA were entitled the same due process rights as defendants appealing a conviction because an important liberty interest was at stake: the loss of physical freedom. It relied on Lassiter for the idea that "it is the deprivation of personal freedom, not merely the prosecution itself, that triggers the right to counsel." In addition, the court found that the liberty interest at stake for SPVA offenders in these civil commitment proceedings may be greater because it also included a social stigma and an indefinite confinement: "The label affixed to a case, whether it be civil or criminal, is not the dispositive consideration. Rather we look to the infringement upon the person's due process rights to guide our decision."
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