Two MD legislative commissions urge phased-in RTC in DV, and custody pilot

12/01/2014, Report, All Basic Human Needs

In 2013, the Maryland Legislature enacted a bill to establish a Task Force to Study Implementing a Civil Right to Counsel in Maryland. In October 2014, the Task Force released its report and recommendations. Here are the specific recommendations:


  • Recommendation 1. Create a right to counsel in civil domestic violence cases through a four-year, phased-in expansion of existing programs that provide representation to income-eligible petitioners and respondents.
  • Recommendation 2. Establish a right to counsel pilot program in child custody matters by increasing funding for the Judicare program administered by the Maryland Legal Services Corporation.
  • Recommendation 3. Appoint a work group to oversee implementation of these recommendations, to assess the programs and pilots, and to report back to the Governor and the General Assembly.


In December 2014, the Maryland General Assembly Commission on Child Custody Decision-Making issued a final report urging the Legislature to adopt the above Task Force's recommendations, and also stated:

The Judiciary should determine a reasonable accommodations process to enable the court to appoint counsel, as needed, for a person whose disability interferes with there ability to have meaningful access to the court process. The court may request that the individual provide documentation from a health care professional justifying the need for counsel based on their knowledge of the individual and the individual’s disability.

Maryland Radio station WYPR talked to legislative task force staffer and Maryland Access to Justice Commission Executive Director Pamela Ortiz about common questions related to the right to counsel in civil cases.


Nccrc_involvement_icon NCCRC staffers John Pollock and Debra Gardner testified before the Task Force.