Discretionary appointment of counsel
Litigation, Termination of Parental Rights (Private) - Birth Parents
The Michigan Supreme Court has said that trial courts have discretion to appoint counsel in involuntary adoptions, and "[i]n exercising such discretion, the trial court will be guided by the principle of assuring the nonconsenting parent the ability to present a case properly, measured in the particular case by factors such as the relative strength of the adversaries and the presence or absence of legal, factual, procedural, or evidentiary complexity." Matter of Sanchez, 375 N.W.2d 353, 358-59 (Mich. 1985). Sanchez added that "where the trial court has determined that trial counsel is necessary to protect the noncustodial parent's interests at the termination proceedings, counsel should also be appointed on appeal, absent some change in circumstances, identified by the trial court, which would justify denial of appellate counsel."
A few courts of appeals have applied the Sanchez factors and found that counsel should have been appointed for the noncustodial father in the particular adoption case. See e.g. Matter of Fernandez, 399 N.W.2d 459, 461 (Mich. Ct. App. 1986) (in case involving incarcerated father, court decides appointment warranted even though respondent never requested it because 1) respondent wanted to retain counsel and indicated inability to pay it; and 2) respondent not free to appear in court; and 3) appointment warranted "in view of the trial court's acknowledgment of the complexities of this case"); In re Breda No. 251731, 2005 WL 50183, at *7 (Mich. Ct. App. 2005) (unpublished) ("We see no reason to conclude that the trial court's refusal to appoint counsel at the de novo review hearing without any consideration of the relevant factors is any less an abuse of discretion than a refusal to do so for appellate proceedings.")
If "yes", the established right to counsel or discretionary appointment of counsel is limited in some way, including any of: the only authority is a lower/intermediate court decision or a city council, not a high court or state legislature; there has been a subsequent case that has cast doubt; a statute is ambiguous; or the right or discretionary appointment is not for all types of individuals or proceedings within that category.
Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no