Massachusetts

This page provides a breakdown of all major developments and right to counsel law that the NCCRC knows for this state, sorted by subject area. Click on either tab below to see the aspect it describes.

Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Accused Parents

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Indigent parents have a right to counsel "Whenever the department or a licensed child placement agency is a party to child custody proceedings."

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

MA Supreme Court: parents have a right to counsel in abuse/neglect cases

02/10/2015

The MA high court has said that the constitutional right to counsel applies to abuse/neglect cases.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

 

Nccrc_involvement_icon NCCRC assisted with the briefing in the case.

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Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Children

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Dependent children have a right to counsel in a variety of scenarios.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Adult Protective Proceedings - Proposed Ward

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel indigent subjects of adult protective proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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All Basic Human Needs

Report

MA Report discusses those turned away for legal aid, and benefits of counsel

10/01/2014

The BBA Task Force to Expand Civil Legal Aid's report discusses how many eligible clients are turned away and the economic benefits of counsel.

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Bypass of Parental Input into Abortion - Minor

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

A minor has a right to counsel upon request in proceedings to dispense with parental consent for an abortion.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Court Rule or Initiative

Discretionary appointment of counsel

A court may appoint counsel pursuant to a court rule for a minor who seeks to bypass the parental consent requirement for an abortion.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no

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Child in Need of Supervision Proceedings (incomplete)

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel - CRA proceedings

Both the parents and children are entitled to counsel in Child Requiring Assistance CRA) cases in certain circumstances.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Civil Commitment - Subject of Petition

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel for respondents in civil commitment proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Civil Forfeiture

Legislation

Legislation: forfeiture

01/23/2017

This bill would eliminates civil forfeiture and requires appointment of counsel for indigent persons opposing forfeiture.

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Custody Disputes - Parents

Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

MA high court: parents have right to counsel in private child guardianship establishment and modification proceedings

05/04/2016

The Supreme Judicial Court of MA held there is a constitutional right to counsel in proceedings to establish or modify a child guardianship.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

 

Nccrc_involvement_icon NCCRC authored the first draft of the multi-organization amicus brief, and helped with the 2nd case.

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Custody Disputes - Children

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

A court held that when state involvement is imminent in a custody case, the court must appoint counsel for the child.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

Read more about this

Litigation

MA Supreme Court: indigent guardians may be appointed counsel

04/13/2017

The MA Supreme Court held a trial court may use its equitable powers to appoint counsel for an indigent guardian in a child guardianship case.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: yes

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Divorce

Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Discretionary appointment of counsel - divorce

The Supreme Judicial Court of MA has suggested it can appoint counsel in divorce cases as a matter of due process.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no

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Domestic Violence - Accused Person

Legislation

Legislation: minor defendants in DV proceedings

01/23/2017

These bills would require appointment of counsel for minor defendants in protection from abuse proceedings.

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Domestic Violence - Alleged Victim

Legislation

Legislation: minor plaintiffs in DV proceedings

01/23/2017

These bills would require appointment of counsel for minor plaintiffs in protection from abuse proceedings.

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Guardianship/Conservatorship of Adults - Ward

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Massachusetts establishes right to counsel in adult guardianship proceedings

01/01/2009

In 2009, the new Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code established a right to counsel upon request in adult guardianship/conservatorship cases.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

Read more about this

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel in guardianship proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

Read more about this

Housing - Evictions

Legislation

Boston Mayor Walsh advances housing right to counsel bill

01/23/2017

Boston Mayor Walsh backed a statewide bill that would guarantee counsel for indigent tenants in eviction cases.

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Pilot

MA completes comprehensive housing pilots, starts another round

01/01/2012

A set of housing right to counsel pilots were completed in Massachusetts in 2012, and another round started in 2013.

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Incarceration for Fees/Fines (incomplete)

Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel when an indigent defendant is incarcerated for failure to pay a fine.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Report

MA Senate Committee, Trial Court reports flag right to counsel issues in fees/fines cases

11/17/2016

Reports from a MA Senate Committee and MA Trial Court Working Group call for a right to counsel in fees/fines cases.

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Involuntary Medical Treatment

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel - consent to treatment plan

For minors and incapacitated persons, there is a right to counsel regarding consent to a treatment plan.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Paternity - Defendant/Respondent

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Discretionary appointment of counsel

A court may appoint counsel for a paternity respondent.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no

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Paternity - Petitioner or Child

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Discretionary appointment of counsel

Counsel may be provided for a petitioner in a paternity action.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no

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Quarantine/Inoculation

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel for those committed to a hospital due to TB.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Sexually Dangerous Persons - Commitment

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel in sexually dangerous person commitment proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Litigation

Right to counsel

There is a constitutional right to counsel for portions of MA proceedings relating to sexually dangerous persons.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Sexually Dangerous Persons - Registration/Notification

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Sex offenders have a right to counsel in appealing sex offender registry determinations.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Termination of Parental Rights (Private) - Children

Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Constitution requires counsel for children in adoptions, MA high court rules

11/16/2012

The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts found a state due process right to counsel for children in private adoption cases.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

Read more about this

Termination of Parental Rights (State) - Children

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Children have a right to counsel in termination of parental rights proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Termination of Parental Rights (Private) - Birth Parents

Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Constitution requires counsel for parents in adoptions, MA high court rules

01/03/2012

The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts found a state due process right to counsel for indigent parents in private adoption cases.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

Read more about this

Termination of Parental Rights (State) - Birth Parents

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Indigent parents have a right to counsel "Whenever the department or a licensed child placement agency is a party to child custody proceedings."

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

Read more about this

Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a state constitutional right to counsel for indigent parents in state-initiated cases to dispense with parental consent to adoption.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

Read more about this

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