Right to counsel

Key_development Question_mark

Court Rule or Initiative, Termination of Parental Rights (State) - Birth Parents

R.I. Juv. P. Rule 18(c) specifies that upon a filing of a petition for termination of parental rights, "A preliminary hearing shall be held on said petition for the court to: (4) Appoint an attorney to represent the parent(s) and any person having such care or custody of such child when said parent(s) or custodian are unable to afford such representation …"  In In re Bryce T., 764 A.2d 718, 721 (R.I. 2001), the Rhode Island Supreme Court cited to Lassiter v. Dep't of Social Services, 452 U.S. 18 (1981) and noted that, "Despite the lack of a constitutional mandate, Rule 18(c) of the Family Court Rules of Juvenile Proceedings provides that "[a] preliminary hearing shall be held on [a petition for involuntary termination of parental rights] for the court to * * * (4) Appoint an attorney to represent the parent(s) and any person having such care or custody of such child when said parent(s) or custodian [is] unable to afford such representation."   The court's phrasing makes it appear that it viewed the right to counsel as absolute, not discretionary.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no