LITIGATION

 

NOTE: the NCCRC only posts about litigation once is is complete.  We do not provide updates on pending litigation.

 

  • In June 2019, a New Jersey appellate court held that parents being administratively adjudicated for abuse/neglect are entitled to appointed to counsel because the adjudication is a "consequence of magnitude." This decision was the first in the country to recognize a right to counsel in an administrative proceeding.
 
  • In Dec 2018, a New Jersey court recognized a constitutional right to counsel for child support obligors facing suspension of their driver's licenses.
 
  • In April 2018, a Pennsylvania court held that those facing incarceration for inability to pay court fees/fines have a constitutional right to counsel.
 
  • In March 2017, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania recognized a right to counsel for children in termination of parental rights cases.  Read more about the case here.


  • In May 2016, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts held that parents have a constitutional right to counsel in proceedings to modify or terminate a private guardianship of a child.  This followed on the heels of a 2014 decision that recognized the right to counsel for parents when the guardianship is initially established.  Read more about the Massachusetts case here.

  • In February 2015, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts held that "an indigent parent is entitled to the benefit of counsel when someone other than the parent, whether it be the State or a private entity or individual, seeks to displace the parent and assume the primary rights and responsibilities for the child, whether it be in a care and protection proceeding, a termination proceeding, an adoption case, or a guardianship proceeding."  NCCRC drafted the first version of a 15-group amicus brief filed in support of the parents.  Then in 2016, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts extended this right to counsel to modifications and terminations of such guardianships in a case again assisted by the NCCRC.  Read more here.

  • In December 2014, the Montana Supreme Court held under the state constitution's equal protection clause that all parents have a right to counsel in adoption cases.  NCCRC contributed substantially to the litigation strategy in this case.  Read more about this case.

  • In January 2014, the NCCRC scored a major win when the Hawaii Supreme Court, adopting the suggestion of a brief co-drafted by the NCCRC, ruled that all Hawaii parents have a right to counsel in abuse/neglect and termination of parental rights cases. Read more about the Hawaii victory, or read a Shriver Center piece about the history and importance of the case.
 
  • In 2014, the Indiana Court of Appeals unexpectedly cast doubt on whether there really is a statutory right to counsel for parents in abuse/neglect cases. After hearing about the case, the NCCRC assisted the petitioner in the form of briefing, reseach, and amicus help, and in March 2014 the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that not only do parents have a right to counsel, but the failure to appoint counsel automatically requires reversal. Read more about the Indiana case.