California

This page provides a breakdown of all major developments and right to counsel law that the NCCRC knows for this state, sorted by subject area. Click on either tab below to see the aspect it describes.

Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Accused Parents

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

A court must appoint counsel for indigent parents in some situations, while it is discretionary in others.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

A California appellate court found a right to counsel for indigent parents in dependency proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Discretionary appointment of counsel

Several appellate courts have suggested that counsel may be appointed on a case-by-case basis in dependency cases under due process.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no

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Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Children

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Discretionary appointment of counsel

Court must appoint counsel for child unless it determines there would be no benefit to doing so.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no

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Adult Protective Proceedings - Proposed Ward

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

A California statute requires appointment of counsel for an indigent endangered adult placed in protective custody.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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All Basic Human Needs

Legislation

San Francisco enacts ordinance declaring intent to become first "right to civil counsel city"

01/01/2012

The San Francisco Council passed an ordinance declaring an intent to become the first "right to civil counsel city".

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Court Rule or Initiative

California Bar task force calls for right to counsel in 4 civil areas

01/01/2015

A report by the Civil Justice Strategies Task Force of the California Bar recommended that the state bar support a right to counsel in 4 areas.

 

Nccrc_involvement_icon The NCCRC gave input to a draft of the report.

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Bypass of Parental Input into Abortion - Minor

Legislation

No such proceeding

There is no requirement that a minor obtain parental input prior to having an abortion.

Child Support Establishment

Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

A few appellate courts have found a right to counsel in certain child support establishment proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Civil Contempt in Family Court

Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

A California court found a constitutional right to counsel for civil contempt proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Civil Commitment - Subject of Petition

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

California provides a right to counsel for indigent respondents in various types of civil commitment proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

The California Supreme Court found a right to counsel for respondents in civil commitments.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Custody Disputes - Parents

Pilot

All about California's Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel pilot projects

07/28/2017

In 2009, California enacted the Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act, which created right to counsel pilots, and in 2016 made them permanent.

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Custody Disputes - Children

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Discretionary appointment of counsel

A court may appoint counsel for a child in traditional custody proceedings if it would be in the child's best interest.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no

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Divorce

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel - disabled spouse in property transfer

A statute requires counsel upon request for a spouse alleged to lack legal capacity for a proposed transaction involving community property.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Court Rule or Initiative

Right to counsel - spousal property transfers

A local court rule in Contra Costa County requires appointment of counsel for certain spousal property transfers.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Domestic Violence - Alleged Victim

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Discretionary appointment of counsel

A court may appoint counsel for the petitioner in protection order enforcement cases, and can order the respondent to pay the counsel fees.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no

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Guardianship/Conservatorship of Adults - Ward

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

California statutes require appointment of counsel in guardianship and conservatorship proceedings, but there are conditions.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Housing - Evictions

Legislation

Legislation: San Francisco ballot initiative, ordinance would establish right to counsel in housing cases

11/14/2017

A new ballot initiative and city ordinance would guarantee counsel for San Francisco tenants in eviction cases.

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City of Los Angeles explores housing right to counsel ordinance

11/01/2017

The City of Los Angeles is exploring whether to enact an ordinance providing a right to counsel in housing court similar to New York City.

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Pilot

All about California's Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel pilot projects

07/28/2017

In 2009, California enacted the Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act, which created right to counsel pilots, and in 2016 made them permanent.

Read more about this

Immigration

Legislation

California Legislature calls for fed gov't to ensure counsel for children in immigration cases

09/09/2016

SJR 28, passed by the California Assembly, urges the federal government to guarantee counsel for children in immigration cases.

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Incarceration for Fees/Fines (incomplete)

Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

A California court found a right to counsel for civil contempt proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Involuntary Medical Treatment

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

California provides a right to appointed counsel prior to the involuntary administration of medical treatment.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Right to counsel

A person subject to a guardianship has a right to counsel prior to the imposition of court-ordered medical treatment.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Paternity - Defendant/Respondent

Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

The California Supreme Court found a state and federal constitutional right to counsel in certain paternity proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Prisoners

Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel - prisoners

The California Supreme Court has said that prisoners have a right to counsel in certain circumstances.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Sexually Dangerous Persons - Commitment

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel for indigent respondents in sexually violent predator commitment cases, including for review of the commitment.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Termination of Parental Rights (Private) - Children

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

A dependent child has a right to counsel in adoption proceedings, whereas a non-dependent child is appointed counsel at the court's discretion.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Termination of Parental Rights (State) - Children

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Courts must appoint counsel for dependent children in termination cases, and otherwise have discretion to appoint.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Termination of Parental Rights (Private) - Birth Parents

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Indigent parents have a right to counsel in most adoption proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Two appellate courts have held there is a right to counsel in stepparent adoption cases.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Termination of Parental Rights (State) - Birth Parents

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel - trial and appeal

Indigent parents are entitled to counsel in termination of parental rights cases and for appeals.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Truancy - Petition Against Child

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel for children in truancy proceedings (which are treated as a status offense).

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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