Kentucky

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.

Color Key Explanation
Categorical Right To Counsel There is a right to counsel without qualification for all indigent individuals in this type of case (except that the individual may be required to request counsel).
Discretionary Appointment Of Counsel Courts are permitted but not required to appoint counsel for any indigent individual in this type of case. A request may be required.
Right Or Appointment Is Qualified The established right to counsel or discretionary appointment of counsel is limited in some way, including: the only authority comes from a lower/intermediate court decision or a city government, not a high court or state legislature; a case has cast doubt on prior authority; a statute is ambiguous; or the right or discretionary appointment is not for all individuals or proceedings within that type of case.
No Such Proceeding This state has no law creating a judicial proceeding of this type.
None While this state does not provide for or require appointment of counsel with respect to the given subject area, it does have something (such as a report or bar policy) that supports the right to or appointment of counsel for this subject area.
Other Because the "Other subject areas” category can include developments from different subject areas that do not work the same way as each other, a blanket categorization of this category is not possible.

Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Accused Parents

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Indigent parents are entitled to counsel in dependency proceedings following the initial temporary removal hearing.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Children

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Children have a right to counsel in dependency proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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All Basic Human Needs

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Discretionary appointment of counsel

A court may appoint counsel for any indigent litigant in a civil case.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no

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Bypass of Parental Input into Abortion - Minor

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

A minor seeking to bypass the parental consent requirement for abortion has a right to counsel upon request.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Civil Contempt in Family Court

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

A court has interpreted a Kentucky statute to require counsel for indigent defendants in civil contempt cases.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Litigation

Right to counsel

The Kentucky Supreme Court has found a Fourteenth Amendment due process right to counsel in civil contempt cases.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Civil Commitment - Subject of Petition

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel for the subject of a civil commitment proceeding.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

The Kentucky Supreme Court found a due process and equal protection right to counsel in civil commitment cases.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Guardianship/Conservatorship of Adults - Ward

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Counsel must be appointed for the subject of a guardianship case.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Housing - Discrimination

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Discretionary appointment of counsel

A court may appoint counsel for either side in a housing discrimination case.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no

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Incarceration for Fees/Fines (incomplete)

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

A court interpreted a Kentucky statute to require counsel for indigent defendants in civil contempt cases.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

Read more about this

Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

The high court has found a Fourteenth Amendment due process right to counsel in civil contempt cases.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

Read more about this

Prisoners

Court Rule or Initiative

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel - prisoners failing to defend

A court must appoint an attorney as guardian ad litem for any prisoner that fails to defend against a civil action.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Sexually Dangerous Persons - Commitment

Legislation

No such proceeding

There is no procedure in the state for confinement of a sexually dangerous/violent person.

Termination of Parental Rights (Private) - Children

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is an arguable right to counsel for children in adoption cases.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Termination of Parental Rights (State) - Children

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Children have a right to counsel in termination of parental rights cases.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Termination of Parental Rights (Private) - Birth Parents

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Discretionary appointment of counsel

A court must appoint counsel for a biological parent upon request in an adoption if "reasonably necessary in the interest of justice."

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no

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Termination of Parental Rights (State) - Birth Parents

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Indigent parents have a right to counsel upon request in involuntary termination of parental rights proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Litigation

Right to counsel

One Kentucky Court of Appeals has suggested there is a due process right to counsel in termination of parental rights cases.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Truancy - Petition Against Child

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel for indigent children in truancy (treated as a status offense) and a right for all children facing detention.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

Read more about this

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