MD high court reaffirms right to counsel in civil contempt cases

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09/25/2013, Litigation, Child Support Enforcement (Civil Contempt)

In DeWolfe v. Richmond, the Court of Appeals of Maryland, which is Maryland's highest court, addressed the right to counsel in bail proceedings. As part of its opinion, it stated, "we have reaffirmed that the right attaches in any proceeding that may result in the defendant's incarceration", and cited to Rutherford v. Rutherford. 296 Md. 347, 464 A.2d 228 (1983), which had found a due process right to counsel in civil contempt proceedings under both the federal and state constitutions. Although the United States Supreme Court held in Turner v. Rogers that counsel is not automatically required in civil contempt cases (at least where the state is not the plaintiff), the DeWolfe Court's reliance on Rutherford suggests that Rutherford is now good law under the state constitution.

Cite: DeWolfe v. Richmond, 76 A.3d 1019 (Md. 2013).

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