Hawaii Supreme Court says parents have right to counsel in abuse/neglect cases

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01/06/2014, Litigation, Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Accused Parents

In In re T.M., 319 P.3d 338 (Haw. 2014), the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that all parents have a right to counsel in abuse/neglect and termination of parental rights proceedings under the due process clause of the Hawaii Constitution. Previously, appointment of counsel was on a case-by-case basis as per statute. Although the petition to the Court argued that the trial court abused its discretion in not appointing counsel for the mother in question, the amicus brief drafted by the NCCRC and filed by the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, Hawaii ACLU Foundation, and Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice urged the Court to take up the right to counsel for all parents. In its opinion, the Court relied on the amicus brief's reasoning to find the right to counsel.


For more on the case, including media coverage of the decision, check out our bibliography section on T.M.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no



NCCRC recruited the amici, co-drafted the amicus brief, and worked with petitioner on oral argument.