Major developments


This page lists all of the most recent developments on civil right to counsel across the country. These could be newly created rights to counsel, significant publications, public events, advocacy efforts, or other things that don't fit into a neat category.

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Fed gov't agencies warn state courts about right to counsel obligations


The Department of Justice and Office of Child Support Enforcement have reminded state courts about the right to counsel for some civil matters.

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Bills on civil right to counsel dominate 2016 legislative sessions


Over two dozen bills that would establish or expand rights to counsel in civil cases have been filed in state legislatures across the country.

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CT Chief Justice, State Bar President cite importance of civil right to counsel


The incoming CT State Bar President and the CT Supreme Court Chief Justice say a civil right to counsel must be examined.

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NY extends right to counsel to non-respondent parents


A 2015 bill extended the right to counsel in abuse/neglect proceedings to non-respondent parents who appear in court.

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Philadelphia Bar Chancellor Joins Chorus for Civil Right to Counsel


New Philadelphia Bar Chancellor Gaetan Alfano has said that civil right to counsel will be a priority during his term.

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NCCRC participates in DOJ/White House meeting on debtor's prison


The NCCRC joined a December meeting convened by the Department of Justice and the White House about the rise of debtor's prisons.

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Study: detained immigrants 5.5x more likely to prevail with lawyer


A comprehensive study concluded that detained immigrants are 5.5 times more likely to avoid removal if they have a lawyer.

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Nat'l Center for State Courts: 3/4 of civil cases have one unrepresented party


A report by the National Center for State Courts reveals that at least three-quarters of all civil cases involve at least one pro se party.

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NH Supreme Court rejects attempt to truncate parental right to counsel


The NH Supreme Court rejected a proposed rule change that would have truncated a parent's right to counsel in dependency (abuse/neglect) cases.

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WA State Bar: kids should have right to counsel in dependency proceedings


The Washington State Bar Association passed a resolution urging the state to guarantee lawyers for children in dependency (abuse/neglect) cases.

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Missouri court: parents must be informed of right to counsel


A Missouri appellate court found that courts must tell parents they have a right to request appointment of counsel.

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New Hampshire restores, protects right to counsel for parents in abuse/neglect proceedings


In 2013, the legislature restored the right to counsel for parents in abuse/neglect cases, and the NH Supreme Court has acted to protect it.

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D.C. pilot expands housing representation


An effort funded by the D.C. Council is expanding representation for tenants in housing cases.

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Wisconsin launches DV representation pilot project


In Wisconsin, a pilot started in 2015 in Winnebago County to provide representation to DV victims in family law cases.

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Florida SCT: right to counsel in termination proceedings survived SCOTUS opinion


The Florida Supreme Court upheld the due process right to counsel for indigent parents in termination proceedings, rejecting SCOTUS precedent.

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UNC Law School human rights report flags lack of right to counsel in civil cases


A new report by UNC Law School explains how lack of a civil right to counsel violates international human rights law.

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Texas decriminalizes truancy, adds appointment of counsel provision


In 2015, Texas decriminalized truancy, prevented initial incarceration, and permitted the court to appoint counsel for the child.

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NY Legislature first to declare support for civil right to counsel principles


The NY Senate and House passed a concurrent resolution supporting the concept of universal representation in basic human needs civil cases.

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Texas enacts law expanding right to counsel for parents


A Texas law enacted in 2015 provides for appointment of counsel for unknown/unlocatable parents and provides earlier notice to other parents.

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Missouri debtor's prison case, including right to counsel claim, moves forward


A federal case alleging the City of Ferguson is jailing indigent debtors without a hearing or counsel has survived a motion to dismiss.

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Mississippi pilots show significant benefit of counsel in child welfare cases


A recent Mississippi study showed that parents benefit significantly when given access to legal counsel.

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Other countries to U.S.: provide counsel in civil proceedings


During a periodic review of the U.S. by the U.N. Human Rights Council, countries urged the U.S. to provide counsel in certain civil cases.

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Fed court: counsel must be appointed earlier in child welfare process


A federal court found that a South Dakota court's practice of not appointing counsel at 48-hour child removal hearings violated due process.

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


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

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ABA: all unaccompanied minors should get counsel


ABA Resolution 113 calls for the appointment of counsel for unaccompanied minors in all immigration proceedings.

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Fed judge laments lack of right to counsel, recuses himself for helping pro se litigant


A federal judge felt he had to recuse himself after helping a pro se litigant, and pointed to the lack of a right to counsel as the problem.

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California Bar task force calls for right to counsel in 4 civil areas


A report by the Civil Justice Strategies Task Force of the California Bar recommended that the state bar support a right to counsel in 4 areas.

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Wisconsin advocates petition WI Supreme Court for right to counsel rules


WI advocates have filed two petitions asking the WI Supreme Court to establish civil right to counsel rules and pilot projects.

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Montana parents have constitutional right to counsel in adoptions, says high court


The Supreme Court of Montana held the state's failure to provide counsel in private adoption cases violated the state's equal protection clause.

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


One Maryland legislative task force and one commission urge the state to adopt a phased-in right to counsel in DV cases and a custody pilot.

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