Pennsylvania

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

Indigent parents have a right to counsel in abuse/neglect cases.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Children

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Children in abuse/neglect cases are entitled to a GAL who is an attorney.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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All Basic Human Needs

Legislation

Pennsylvania hearings on civil legal aid discuss right to counsel

01/01/2013

The PA Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings in 2013 about the civil legal justice gap, and many people testified about a right to counsel.

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Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Discretionary appointment of cousel

A lower court held that incorporated English common law gave the court the power to appoint counsel in any civil case.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: yes

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Bar Effort

Philadelphia Bar Chancellor Joins Chorus for Civil Right to Counsel

12/09/2015

New Philadelphia Bar Chancellor Gaetan Alfano has said that civil right to counsel will be a priority during his term.

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Report

PA urged to take steps towards a civil right to counsel

05/02/2014

A new report issued by the Civil Legal Justice Coalition to the PA State Senate Judiciary Committee urges PA to pursue a civil right to counsel.

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Bypass of Parental Input into Abortion - Minor

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

A minor has a right to counsel in seeking to bypass parental consent to have an abortion.

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 the subject of a civil commitment proceeding.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Litigation

Right to counsel

Two PA courts have suggested that counsel is constitutionally required in civil commitment proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Civil Forfeiture

Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

A lower court stated that there may be a right to counsel in certain civil forfeiture proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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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 a private custody 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 may appoint counsel for the child in various kinds of private custody proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no

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Guardianship/Conservatorship of Adults - Ward

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Discretionary appointment of counsel

There is discretionary appointment of counsel for the subject of a guardianship, and mandatory if the person is in a state mental hospital.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no

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Housing - Evictions

Legislation

Philly City Council resolution authorizes hearings on right to counsel in housing cases

11/04/2016

The Philadelphia City Council passed a resolution authorizing hearings on solving landlord/tenant issues, including looking at right to counsel.

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Involuntary Medical Treatment

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Minors have a right to appointed counsel when being subjected to involuntary drug or alcohol treatment.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Paternity - Defendant/Respondent

Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Several lower courts found a federal constitutional right to counsel for respondents in state-initiated paternity cases.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Sexually Dangerous Persons - Confinement

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel for indigent respondents in sexually violent person commitment proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Termination of Parental Rights (Private) - Children

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Children have a right to counsel in contested 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

Read more about this

Termination of Parental Rights (Private) - Birth Parents

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Indigent parents have a right to counsel in contested adoption cases.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

Read more about this

Litigation

Right to counsel

The PA Supreme Court found a due process right to counsel in private termination of parental rights cases.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Termination of Parental Rights (State) - Parents

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

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

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Litigation

Pennsylvania court: denial of counsel in termination case is reversible

05/20/2016

A Pennsylvania court reversed a termination of parental rights decision where the parent had been denied her right to appointed counsel.

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Right to counsel

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court found a due process right to counsel in termination of parental rights cases, although case is in some doubt.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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