Right to counsel

Litigation, Termination of Parental Rights (State) - Children

In In re Clark, 281 S.E.2d 47 (N.C. 1981), the high court rejected the claim that due process required the appointment of counsel for all parents and children in termination of parental rights proceedings. In its decision issued the same year as Lassiter, the court examined the statute governing termination of parental rights that was in place at the time, one that did not provide a right to counsel. The court found the Lassiter ruling "persuasive" and held that "the failure of our Act (prior to the recent amendment) to require the appointment of counsel for an indigent parent or the minor child in all cases did not make the Act constitutionally defective under the Constitution of North Carolina." However, the Clark court did say that in situations where the child lacks a GAL who is an attorney, the court should address the situation on a case-by-case basis, but "whenever the respondent-parent is represented by counsel, appointed or retained, we believe that fundamental fairness requires that the minor child be represented by counsel."  

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes