The Existing Right to Counsel Infrastructure
Judges’ Journal, Vol. 47, No. 4, Fall 2008
5 Pages Posted: 7 Jan 2010
Date Written: September 1, 2008
In 2006, the American Bar Association (ABA) passed a resolution endorsing a right to counsel in certain categories of civil cases where basic human needs are at stake, including those involving shelter, sustenance, safety, health or child custody. The resolution is incremental in that it builds on the existing civil right to counsel infrastructure that has been developed in many jurisdictions. Virtually every jurisdiction has established a right to counsel in some sort of civil proceeding, primarily in cases concerning child custody, accessing or refusing medical treatment, child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, and physical liberty (including involuntary institutionalization, quarantine, and civil contempt). These existing right to counsel schemes teach us that for a civil right to counsel to be effective, appointed counsel must: have adequate experience and training, be assigned to fulfill particular duties, be given only as many cases as they can competently handle, function independently of the appointing authority, be adequately compensated, and be appointed early enough in a particular proceeding. Additionally, the appointment system must be uniform throughout a particular state.
Keywords: civil gideon, right to counsel, American Bar Association, ABA, shelter, sustenance, safety, health, child custody, right to counsel infrastructure, child custody, refusing medical treatment, child abuse, domestic violence, neglect, physical liberty, appointment, appointed counsel
JEL Classification: I3, K1, K4, I18, J18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation