Discretionary appointment of counsel - Incarcerated individuals

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Litigation, Issues Related to Incarcerated People

In White v. Trent, 519 S.E.2d 649 (W.Va. 1999), incarcerated persons asked for an attorney to be appointed to represent them regarding conditions of imprisonment. The Court held that the state public defender was not obligated to represent the individuals because "no statutory authority exists that would require the public defender to represent one of these inmates and expend state funds in doing so."  The court commented, "[t]o require the public defender to represent inmates in actions relating to the conditions of their confinement might well inundate and overwhelm the system, thwarting the goals of the legislature, as recognized by this Court."  However, it noted, "We do not mean to foreclose the possibility that an inmate seeking relief with respect to the conditions of his or her confinement may be appointed an attorney, other than the public defender, in the discretion of the court."

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: yes