Right to counsel

Key_development Question_mark

Legislation, Termination of Parental Rights (State) - Birth Parents

Indigent parents have a right to counsel upon request in involuntary termination of parental rights proceedings.  Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 625.0405, 625.080(3).


In Commonwealth v. K.B.H., 2005 WL 2108126 at *3 (Ky. Ct. App. 2005), the court held that an attorney appointed at trial is obligated by the rules of ethics to handle the appeal, as a lawyer who agrees to represent a client is required to see the case through to completion, including "an appeal if so desired by the client."  At the same time, the Kentucky Court of Appeals has held that counsel is not required to pursue a frivolous appeal, applying the standard from Anders v. State of California, 386 U.S. 738 (1967), to termination of parental rights cases). It also held that parents are not entitled to additional payment for appointed counsel at the appellate stage because Section 625.080 does not provide for it. The K.B.H. court conceded the $500 cap on attorney's fees did not keep pace with inflation and did not ensure meaningful access to an appeal, but held that "we cannot intrude upon the legislative prerogative and function to legislate."

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no