Right to counsel
While a state may have many statutes, court decisions, or court rules governing appointment of counsel for a particular subject area, a "Key Development" is a statute/decision/rule that prevails over the others (example: a state high court decision finding a categorical right to counsel in guardianships cases takes precedence over a statute saying appointment in guardianship cases is discretionary).
Legislation, Termination of Parental Rights (State) - Birth Parents
Before the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Lassiter v. Department of Social Services, 452 U.S. 18 (1981) (finding no Fourteenth Amendment categorical right to counsel in termination of parental rights proceedings), the Oklahoma Supreme Court considered a case where a mother was not appointed counsel in a termination of parental rights case, notwithstanding a statute requiring that counsel be appointed in such cases. In re Chad S., 580 P.2d 983, 984-985 (Okla. 1978). The court commented that "[n]o decision of this court has previously required the trial court, as a matter of constitutional due process, to advise parents in a termination order of their right to court-appointed counsel if they are shown to be indigent." However, it then went on to broadly state that "[t]he fundamental nature of parental rights requires that the full panoply of procedural safeguards must be applied to child deprivation hearings. This includes the right to counsel." The court relied on a series of U.S. Supreme Court rulings for its decision.
The high court subsequently revisited the right to counsel in termination proceedings in a post-Lassiter case and found there is a right to counsel in such proceedings, including the right to effective counsel. In re D.D.F. 801 P.2d 703, 706 (Okla. 1990). nterestingly, the court rejected Lassiter in favor of its prior determination in In re Chad S., stating, "[a]lthough the federal constitution does not require that counsel be appointed in all termination proceedings, we believe that the rights at issue are those which are fundamental to the family unit and are protected by the due process clause of the Oklahoma Constitution, Art. 2, § 7." More recently, Oklahoma courts have found an abuse of discretion where a trial court refused to provide a continuance resulting in a mother being represented by a wholly unprepared counsel at hearing to terminate her parental rights. In re S.S., 90 P.3d 571 (Okla. Civ. App. 2004).
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: categorical Qualified: no