2016 CIVIL RIGHT TO COUNSEL BILLS

 

 

Over five dozen bills that would establish or expand rights to counsel in civil cases have been filed in state legislatures across the country in 2016.

 

 

 

Enacted bills

 

State Bill # Sponsor(s) Description

Status


CA AB 1836 Asm. Maienschein

Create hearing w/right to appointed counsel to determine whether person already under conservatorship is "gravely disabled" but unwilling to accept treatment.  

 

Approved by Governor on 9/29/16. 
CA SJR 28 Numerous co-sponsors from both parts of California Legislature Urges federal government to provide counsel to all unrepresented children in immigration cases.

SJR 28 ntroduced on 8/23/16.  Adopted by the Senate on 8/25/16.  Ref'd to Assembly Judiciary Committee on 8/29/16.  Passed Assembly on 8/31/16 and Chaptered by Secretary of State on 9/9/16.

 

CA SB 843 Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review

Repeals the provision that sunsets the Shriver Civil Counsel Act pilot projects.


Signed by Governor on 6/27/16.

CO SB 131 Sen. Tate, Rep. Pabon, Rep. Willett

Provides for appointment of counsel post-adjudication of guardianship or conservatorship of property, if court determines it is necessary.


Signed by Governor on 6/10/16.

 

CT SB 426 House of Representatives Judiciary Committee

Establishes a legislative task force to study impact of lack of access to counsel in civil cases and make recommendations.


Signed by Governor on 6/10/16.


DE SB 188 Numerous co-sponsors from both chambers Would require appointment of attorney-GAL for all children in dependency cases (current law requires appointment of either attorney or CASA). 

Introduced and assigned to Senate Judiciary Committee on 5/18/16.  Reported favorably out of committee on 6/8/16.  Passed Senate on 6/9/16.  Assigned to House Judiciary Committee on 6/10/16.  Reported favorably out of Committee on 6/15/16.  Passed House with amendments on 6/29/16.  Passed Senate on 6/30/16.  Signed by Governor on 9/6/16.

 

FL SB 12 Senators Garcia, Galvano, Ring

 

Creates new process for ordering extended involuntary outpatient treatment for substance abuse, and requires counsel to be appointed. 


Approved by Governor on 4/15/16.

 

GA SB 271 Sens. Burke, Kirk, and Watson

Requires appointment of counsel where Chief Medical Officer of facility determines discharge of person subjected to involuntary treatment would be unsafe.


Signed by Governor on 4/26/16.


MS HB 772 Reps. Gipson, Sykes, Campbell, and Hines

Permits youth court to appoint counsel for indigent parents in abuse/neglect or termination of parental rights proceedings, and requires appointed attorneys to receive training.  States that the Public Defender's office may provide representation in these cases.


Signed by Governor on 5/13/16.


MS HB 1240 Rep. Lamar

Permits court to appoint counsel for parents in termination of parental rights cases.


Signed by Governor on 4/18/16.


NE LB 934 Sen. Coash

Requires all GALs to be attorneys, and says GALs can act as their own counsel or as counsel for protected person unless there are "special reasons" why GAL or protected person should have separate counsel, at which point the GAL has right to appointed counsel without regard to ability to pay. 


Approved by Governor on 4/20/16.

NE LB 1106 Sen. Garrett

Permits court to appoint counsel for someone other than defendant who has claimed interest in property subject to forfeiture due to certain criminal activities.


Approved by Governor on 4/19/16.


NH SB 127 Mix of House and Senate cosponsors

Requires appointment of counsel where care facility petitions court for appointment of "special Medicaid Representative" to seek reimbursement for facility care costs.


Signed by Governor on 6/16/16.
OR HB 4074  Unknown

Provides for registration of juvenile sex offenders, and RTC at hearing. 

 

Signed by Governor on 4/4/16.


PA (Philly) Res. 160988 6 Council  members

Authorizes two committees to hold hearings on issues related to low-income renters, with right to counsel as potential solution.

 

Passed City Council on 11/4/16.

UT HB 101 Rep. Cox, Sen. Hillyard

Eliminates requirement for appointed counsel in guardianship proceeding under certain circumstances.

 

Signed by Governor on 3/30/16.

 

UT SB 155 Sen. Weiler, Rep. McCay

Permits court to appoint counsel for parents in termination actions brought by private party under Juvenile Code.


Signed by Governor on 3/22/16.

 

WV HB 4586 Del. Cowles Requires court to appoint counsel for prisoner with property subject to condemnation who does not have an attorney or committee.

Approved by Governor on 3/29/16.

 


  

Dead bills

 

State Bill # Sponsor(s)

Description

Status

federal

HR 5283 (Due Process Act)

bipartison coalition led by Rep. Sensenbrenner  Would extend right to counsel in federal civil forfeiture proceedings beyond existing right when primary residence is at risk to cover all federal forfeiture cases.

Introduced and ref'd to Committees on Judiciary, Financal Services, and Energy/Commerce on 5/19/16.  Approved by voice vote in Judiciary Committee on 5/25/16.  Placed on Union Calendar on 12/23/16.


federal

 

HR 4646 / S2540 (Fair Day in Court for Kids Act)

 

S3106 (Secure the Northern Triangle Act)

 

HR 5851 / S3241 (Refugee Protection Act)

Numerous cosponsors  Would require appointment of counsel for children and "particularly vulnerable individuals" in immigration proceedings. HR 4646 introduced 2/26/16 and sent to House Judiciary Committee, then ref'd to House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security on 4/1/16.

 

S2540 introduced and referred to Senate Judiciary Committee on 2/11/16.

 

S3106 introduced and referred to Senate Judiciary Committee on 6/28/16.

 

HR 5851 introduced and assigned to Homeland Security, Budget, Judiciary, and Ways & Means Committees on 7/14/16.  Ref'd to Subcommittee on Human Resources on 8/17/16.

 

S3241 introduced and assigned to Judiciary Committee on 7/14/16.


federal

 S2427 / HR5689 (Disability Integration Act)  Sen. Schumer / Rep. Gibson Would permit court to appoint counsel where there is discrimination against individual with disabilities in need of long-term services. 

S2427 introduced and ref'd to Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on 12/18/15.

 

HR 5689 introduced and ref'd to House Judiciary and House Energy and Commerce Committees on 7/8/16.  Ref'd to Judiciary's Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice on 7/22/16.

 

D.C.

B21-0879 


Washington Post story 


Press release

Numerous Council members Would expand representation in certain kinds of housing cases.

Introduced and ref'd to Judiciary Committee on 9/20/16.  Public hearing on 10/19/16.  Died in committee.


DE

SB 222 Numerous co-sponsors from both chambers  Would reqiure appointment of counsel in civil forfeiture proceedings.

Introduced and assigned to Senate Public Safety Committee on 4/12/16.  Died in committee.

 

FL

HB 949/SB 1212   Rep. Cummings / Sen. Flores House bill would permit court to appoint counsel for any child in dependency proceeding (in addition to existing authoriziations). Senate bill, which had been identical, was amended to add only power to appoint where GAL program determines they can't provide GAL due to conflict of interest, and for children under either years old receiving psychotropic meds. Bills also provide for quality control of appointed attorneys. 


HB 949 Filed 12/14/15, through Civil Justice Subcommittee 2/1/16, read 1st time by House on 2/3/16, in Justice Appropriations Subcommittee as of 2/4/16.  Legislature adjourned sine die on 3/11/16.

 

 

SB 1212 filed 12/21/15, reported favorably by Judiciary Committee 1/26/15, reported favorably by Appropriations Subcommittee on 2/17/16, sent to Appropriations on 2/19/16.   Legislature adjourned sine die on 3/11/16.


GA

HB 1073

Reps. Strickland and Weldon

Provides that a parent can only waive counsel in child welfare cases provided that waiver is knowing, voluntary, and on the record.

Added to House Hopper on 2/22/16. Favorably reported out of House Committee on 2/24/16. Passed House on 2/26/16 and ref'd to Senate on 2/29/16. Received favorable committee report on 3/11/16. Read by Senate second time on 3/14/16.  Tabled on 3/22/16.


IA

SB 2264  Senate Judiciary Committee Requires that GALs for children in dissolution and custody actions be attorneys, and specifies that court can appoint an attorney separate from GAL (at which point same person cannot fill both roles).

Filed in 2/22/16 after study bill (SSB 3103) approved by committee on

2/18/16.  Passed Senate on 2/29/16 and sent to House Judiciary Committee on 3/1/16.  Passed subcommittee on 3/9/16.  Legislature went into recess on 4/27/16.

 

KY

HB 96 Reps. Burch, Belcher, Crimm, Westrom

Requires counsel to be appointed for parents prior to temporary removal hearing, rather than after.

Prefiled on 11/30/15.  Posted to Judiciary Committee on 2/8/16.  Received favorable report on 3/16/16.  Passed 3rd reading in House on 3/18/16 and sent to Senate Judiciary  Committee on 3/23/16.  Died in Committee on 4/15/16.


MA

HB 1560 Numerous cosponsors

Would provide a right to counsel for indigent individuals in eviction proceedings.

Ref'd to Joint Committee on the Judiciary.  Hearings took place on 5/12/15 and 11/3/15.  Bill sent for further study on 3/16/16.


MD

HB 43 / SB 70  Del. Saab / Sen. Reilly

Creates hearing process when adult children seek to compel visitation with parent, and specifies that court may appoint counsel for proposed visitee. 

HB 43 pre-filed on 8/16/15, Judiciary Committee hearing on 1/28/16, and unfavorable committee report on 3/7/16. SB 70 pre-filed on 11/13/15. Judiciary Committee hearing on 1/28/16.  Unfavorable committee report and withdrawn on 3/11/16.


MD

HB 646

Numerous cosponsors

Establishes new termination of parental rights procedure for rape, and provides right to counsel.

Read 1st time by House Judiciary Committee on 2/4/16.  Favorable report with amendments, and passed House on 3/21/16.  1st reading by Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on 3/22/16.  Reported favorable with amendments on 4/11/16.  Legislature adjourned sine die on 4/11/16.


MD

HB 866 / SB 833 

Del. Rosenberg and Dumas / Sen. Guzzone

Would establish a pilot project to provide and study counsel in DV proceedings.

HB 866 had Judiciary Committee hearing on 3/2/16. Received unfavorable report and withdrawn on 3/17/16. SB 833 had Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing on 3/8/16, and received unfavorable report on 3/14/16.


MO HB 2713 Rep. Black  Would require appointment of counsel prior to approval of any structured settlement.

Introduced and read first time on 3/10/16.  Read second time on 3/14/16.  Sent to Civil and Criminal Proceedings Committee on 5/13/16.  Died in committee. 

 

MS HB 1314 / SB 2620 Rep. Wooten / Sen. Horhn Would require counsel to be appointed prior to jailing for failure to pay fine/fee.

Both bills referred to Judiciary A on 2/8/16 and died in committee on 2/23/16. 


NE LB 1008 Sen. Coash

Requires all GALs to be attorneys, and says GALs can act as their own counsel or as counsel for protected person unless there are "special reasons" why GAL or protected person should have separate counsel, at which point the GAL has right to appointed counsel without regard to ability to pay.


Introduced 1/15/16.  Judiciary Committee hearing on 2/3/16.  Indefinitely postponed on 4/20/16.

NM HB 120 Rep. James Creates hearing process when adult children seek to compel visitation with parent for whom guardian has not been appointed, and specifies that court may appoint counsel for proposed visitee.  Any appointed counsel is paid for by the petitioner.

Pre-filed in House on 1/19.   House Judiciary Committee voted Do Not Pass.  Committee substitute (complete rewrite w/o right to counsel)  passed Judiciary Committee and House unanimously on 2/2/16, but died in Senate Judiciary Committee on 2/5/16.

 

NM HB 266 Rep. Trujillo

Creating new termination of parental rights process where child conceived due to "criminal sexual penetration", and specifying that court may appoint counsel for indigent party.

 

Ref'd to House Rules & Order of Business on 1/21/16.  Died in committee.
NY  AB 9619 Numeous assembly sponsors  Requires counsel to be appointed for involuntary substance abuse admissions.

Introduced and referred to Acoholism and Substance Abuse Committee on 3/22/16.  Died in committee.


NY   S2061/A05457 11 sponsors  Would create a right to counsel for eviction and foreclosure cases for those at 125% or below of poverty level. 

S2061 ref'd to Local Government Committee on 1/21/15, amended (funding changed to county/state match) and recommitted on 2/12/15, ref'd to Local Government on 1/6/16. Died in committee.

 

A05457 ref'd to Judiciary Committee on 2/24/15 and again on 1/6/16.  Died in committee.

 
NY  S4983  Sens. Ortt, Addabbo, and Reed  Would require appointment of counsel for contested guardianships involving adults with developmental disabilities.  Introduced and ref'd to Judiciary Committee on 4/27/15.  Re-introduced and re-ref'd to Judiciary Committee on 1/6/16.  Died in committee.
NY   S5727 Sens. Lanza, Addabbo, Serrano  Specifies that court may assign counsel to person charged with animal cruelty where petition filed by impounding entity to require bond prior to arraignment. 

Introduced and ref'd to Agriculture Committee on 1/6/16.  Second report on 5/11/16.  Amended on third reading on 6/9/16.  Committed to Rules Committee on 6/17/16.  Died in committee.

 

 NY AB 10685 / SB 8122 Numerous cosponsors Requires court to appoint counsel for any 17-year old seeking required court permission to marry. 

AB 10685 introduced and ref'd to Judiciary Committee on 6/13/16.  Died in committee.

 

SB 8122 introduced and ref'd to Rules Committee on 6/13/16.  Died in committee.

 

 
OH HB 537 Rep. Hayes 

Would permit court to appoint counsel for person bringing action regarding discrimination on basis of sexual orientation in housing or employment. 

 

 Introduced on 4/28/16.  Ref'd to Community and Family Advancement Committee on 5/5/16.  Died in committee.
PA HB 1692 Numerous cosponsors 

Creates new involuntary commitment procedure for substance abuse, and specifies that respondent must be notified that they "may be represented by court-appointed counsel at public expense" if indigent.


Ref'd to Human Services committee on 11/12/15.  Died in committee.
PA  SB 869 Numerous senators  Would require appointment of counsel for indigent owners facing forfeiture of real property who are charged with a crime; otherwise discretionary appointment for those with standing to contest forfeiture but are not criminally charged.

Introduced and ref'd to Judiciary Committee on 6/4/16.  Reported as amended on 9/26/16.  Re-referred to Appropriations Committee on 9/27/16 and re-reported as amended.  Passed Senate and sent to House on 9/28/16.  Ref'd to House Judiciary Committee on 10/3/16.  Died in committee.

 

PA  SB 1380 Numerous senators 

Creates new procedure for adult protective services and requires appointment of counsel for proposed protected person. 

 

Introduced and ref'd to Aging and Youth Committee on 10/12/16.  Died in committee. 
VA HB 203/HB 935 Dels. Lingamfelter, Peace, and Toscano / Dels. Toscano and Plum Requires appointment of counsel for minor in voluntary extension of foster care services, and specifies that GAL can play that role.

HB 203 introduced and ref'd to Committee on Health, Welfare and Institutions on 12/28/15.  Reported favorably out of committeee on 1/28/16.  Ref'd to Committee on Appropriations on 1/28/16. Left in Appropriations on 2/18/16. 

 

HB 935 introduced and ref'd to Committee on Health, Welfare and Institutions on 1/12/16. Left in committee on 2/16/16.


VT HB 696 Numerous cosponsors

Provides procedure for health care worker exposed to bodily fluids of patient with communicable diseas to petition court to obtain blood sample from patient, and provides right to appointed counsel for "any indigent client not already represented."

 

Introduced and ref'd to Committee on Human Services on 1/27/16.  Legislature adjourned sine die on 3/12/16.

WI AB 1012 Numerous cosponsors

Would require court to appoint counsel for parents in abuse/neglect cases where child is removed from home, and would permit court to appoint counsel to any other party in the case.


Introduced and referred to Committee on Family Law on 3/29/16, but session had already ended.