New Jersey

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

An indigent parent is entitled to the services of the public defender in an abuse/neglect proceeding.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

The NJ Supreme Court has suggested there is a constitutional right to counsel whenever there is a temporary deprivation of custody by the state.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Children

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

A child in an abuse/neglect proceeding is entitled to a "law guardian" protect his/her interests and express his/her wishes to the court.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Litigation

Right to counsel

A lower court found a constitutional right to counsel for children in dependency proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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All Basic Human Needs

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Discretionary appointment of counsel - military

A court may appoint counsel for any civil proceeding where a person in military service is a party.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: yes

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Bypass of Parental Input into Abortion - Minor

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel for minors to bypass parental notification for abortion, although the notification requirement is unenforceable.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Civil Contempt in Family Court

Litigation

NJ appellate court extends right to counsel to civil contempt review proceedings

06/01/2014

A New Jersey court found a right to appointed counsel in a hearing on whether a child support obligee should remain in prison for contempt.

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Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

The New Jersey Supreme Court found a state constitutional right to counsel in child support civil contempt proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Court Rule or Initiative

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

A court rule provides for appointment of counsel in civil contempt proceedings, and it implements a constitutional decision by the high court.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Civil Commitment - Subject of Petition

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel for indigent persons subject to short or long-term civil commitment.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

The New Jersey Supreme Court found a constitutional right to counsel for the subjects of a civil commitment proceeding.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Custody Disputes - Children

Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

A number of NJ intermediate courts have found that children in custody proceedings should be provided independent counsel.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Discretionary appointment of counsel

An appellate court held that trial courts have inherent authority to appoint counsel for a child in a custody proceeding.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no

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Court Rule or Initiative

Discretionary appointment of counsel

A court may appoint counsel for a child in a custody dispute.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no

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Domestic Violence - Alleged Victim

Litigation

Despite strong dissent, NJ Supreme Court avoids ruling on RTC in DV cases

01/01/2014

The New Jersey Supreme Court declined to review a decision by the NJ Court of Appeals regarding the right to counsel in DV cases.

 

Nccrc_involvement_icon NCCRC helped draft the amicus brief urging the NJ Supreme Court to accept review.

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Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

A lower NJ court found that minor plaintiffs in DV proceedings should be provided counsel in certain circumstances.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Guardianship/Conservatorship of Adults - Ward

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

In guardianship establishment proceedings for an incapacitated individual, a statute and court rule require the appointment of counsel.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Housing - Evictions

Legislation

Newark looking to be second city to guarantee counsel for evictions

08/11/2018

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka announced a plan to introduce a bill to provide a right to counsel for tenants in evictions.

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Incarceration for Fees/Fines (incomplete)

Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Fed court: NJ township violated defendant's right to counsel in fees/fines case

04/02/2018

A federal court held that a NJ township violated defendants' right to counsel in its handling of fees/fines cases.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

 

Nccrc_involvement_icon

The NCCRC provided some technical assistance in the early stages of the case.

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Involuntary Medical Treatment

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel for developmentally disabled adults and others being subjected to certain kinds of treatment.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Paternity - Defendant/Respondent

Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

An intermediate court found a constitutional right to counsel for defendants in paternity proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Quarantine/Inoculation

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel for those involuntarily confined due to threat of tuberculosis.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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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 confinement cases.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Litigation

Right to counsel

An intermediate appellate court found a federal due process right to counsel for indigents in sexually violent predator commitment proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Sterilization

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel for indigent subjects of a petition for sterilization.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Termination of Parental Rights (Private) - Children

Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Discretionary appointment of counsel

An appellate court held that trial courts have the inherent authority to appoint counsel in an adoption proceeding.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no

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Court Rule or Initiative

Key_development Question_mark

Discretionary appointment of counsel

A court rule permits the court to appoint counsel for a child in an adoption proceeding.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no

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Termination of Parental Rights (State) - Children

Legislation

Legislation (dead): child counsel in termination cases

05/05/2016

This bill would have required a child's appointed counsel to continues past TPR until permanent placement has been finalized.

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Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Children in termination of parental rights proceedings are entitled to the services of a law guardian.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

A lower court found a constitutional right to counsel for children in termination of parental rights proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Termination of Parental Rights (Private) - Birth Parents

Legislation

Legislation (dead): parents in private adoptions

03/01/2017

Two bills would have provided a right to counsel for parents in private adoption cases, codifying a NJ Supreme Court ruling.

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Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

NJ Supreme Court recognizes right to counsel for parents in adoption cases

07/26/2016

The Supreme Court of New Jersey held there is a right to counsel for parents in adoption cases under the NJ Constitution's Due Process Clause.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

 

Nccrc_involvement_icon NCCRC worked with counsel for the mother as well as many of the amici on developing the arguments.

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Right to counsel

Parents have an arguable right to counsel in adoption proceedings.

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

Indigent parents are entitled to the services of a public defender in termination of parental rights proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

Read more about this

Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

New Jersey courts have found a constitutional right to counsel for indigent parents in termination of parental rights proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Right to counsel

A lower court suggested that a parent has a right to counsel when voluntarily surrendering parental rights.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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