Major developments


This page lists all of the most recent developments on civil right to counsel across the country. These could be newly created rights to counsel, significant publications, public events, advocacy efforts, or other things that don't fit into a neat category.

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NH Supreme Court rejects attempt to truncate parental right to counsel


The NH Supreme Court rejected a proposed rule change that would have truncated a parent's right to counsel in dependency (abuse/neglect) cases.

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WA State Bar: kids should have right to counsel in dependency proceedings


The Washington State Bar Association passed a resolution urging the state to guarantee lawyers for children in dependency (abuse/neglect) cases.

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Missouri court: parents must be informed of right to counsel


A Missouri appellate court found that courts must tell parents they have a right to request appointment of counsel.

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New Hampshire restores, protects right to counsel for parents in abuse/neglect proceedings


In 2013, the legislature restored the right to counsel for parents in abuse/neglect cases, and the NH Supreme Court has acted to protect it.

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Florida SCT: right to counsel in termination proceedings survived SCOTUS opinion


The Florida Supreme Court upheld the due process right to counsel for indigent parents in termination proceedings, rejecting SCOTUS precedent.

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UNC Law School human rights report flags lack of right to counsel in civil cases


A new report by UNC Law School explains how lack of a civil right to counsel violates international human rights law.

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Texas decriminalizes truancy, adds appointment of counsel provision


In 2015, Texas decriminalized truancy, prevented initial incarceration, and permitted the court to appoint counsel for the child.

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NY Legislature first to declare support for civil right to counsel principles


The NY Senate and House passed a concurrent resolution supporting the concept of universal representation in basic human needs civil cases.

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Texas enacts law expanding right to counsel for parents


A Texas law enacted in 2015 provides for appointment of counsel for unknown/unlocatable parents and provides earlier notice to other parents.

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Missouri debtor's prison case, including right to counsel claim, moves forward


A federal case alleging the City of Ferguson is jailing indigent debtors without a hearing or counsel has survived a motion to dismiss.

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Other countries to U.S.: provide counsel in civil proceedings


During a periodic review of the U.S. by the U.N. Human Rights Council, countries urged the U.S. to provide counsel in certain civil cases.

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Fed court: counsel must be appointed earlier in child welfare process


A federal court found that a South Dakota court's practice of not appointing counsel at 48-hour child removal hearings violated due process.

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MA Supreme Court: parents have a right to counsel in abuse/neglect cases


The MA high court has said that the constitutional right to counsel applies to abuse/neglect cases.

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ABA: all unaccompanied minors should get counsel


ABA Resolution 113 calls for the appointment of counsel for unaccompanied minors in all immigration proceedings.

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Fed judge laments lack of right to counsel, recuses himself for helping pro se litigant


A federal judge felt he had to recuse himself after helping a pro se litigant, and pointed to the lack of a right to counsel as the problem.

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


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.

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Montana parents have constitutional right to counsel in adoptions, says high court


The Supreme Court of Montana held the state's failure to provide counsel in private adoption cases violated the state's equal protection clause.

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Two MD legislative commissions urge phased-in RTC in DV, and custody pilot


One Maryland legislative task force and one commission urge the state to adopt a phased-in right to counsel in DV cases and a custody pilot.

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NY Times features NCCRC, nationwide push for civil right to counsel


The New York Times discussed the nationwide push for civil legal aid and highlighted the NCCRC as well as efforts by some of its participants.

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Minnesota Supreme Court essay contest focuses on civil right to counsel


The Minnesota Supreme Court Historical Society's 2014 essay contest for high school students was about civil right to counsel.

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Alabama fed court settlement establishes RTC in ability-to-pay cases


A federal district court approved a settlement requiring counsel for indigent debtors at ability-to-pay hearings.

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MA Report discusses those turned away for legal aid, and benefits of counsel


The BBA Task Force to Expand Civil Legal Aid's report discusses how many eligible clients are turned away and the economic benefits of counsel.

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State supreme court justices talk civil right to counsel


At the LSC 40th Anniversary event, several state supreme court justices spoke favorably about the right to counsel in civil cases.

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GA high court says some civil contempt cases might require counsel


In response to a class action, the Supreme Court of Georgia said there might be a right to counsel in some child support civil contempt cases.

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Lack of right to counsel affects POC communities, says treaty body


The international body that enforces the CERD treaty urged the U.S. to address the impact of a lack of a right to counsel on people of color.

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WA Court of Appeals finds right to counsel for foster child


The WA Court of Appeals held that a trial court abused its discretion in not appointing counsel for a minor child in a dependency proceeding.

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


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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Report finds right to counsel in immigration would pay for itself


A report commissioned by the NYC Bar finds that an immigration right to counsel would pay for itself.

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PA urged to take steps towards a civil right to counsel


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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Florida Legislature establishes right to counsel for certain dependent children


A new Florida law provides a right to counsel for particularly vulnerable children in dependency proceedings.

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