Ten Years in and Picking Up Steam: A Retrospective on the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel
47 Clearinghouse Rev. J. of Poverty L. & Pol'y 35 (May-June 2013)
11 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2015
Date Written: 2013
As Gideon v. Wainwright, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that recognized a right to a lawyer for criminal defendants, turned fifty in 2013, the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel celebrated its tenth anniversary. These two events are not mutually exclusive: the right to counsel in criminal cases and the movement to establish a right to counsel in civil cases involving basic human needs are intertwined. One need look only at the collateral effects of denial of counsel in each area on the other, the similar level of importance of the interests at stake, and the fact that civil and criminal legal aid providers often have the same clients.
Our goal in this article is to show how a project with a long-term outlook got off the ground organically but then carefully rooted itself and expanded over a relatively short time, even during a burgeoning economic crisis. We hope this information will prove useful not just to those who believe in the civil right to counsel but also to anyone building a movement from the ground up.
Keywords: civil right to counsel, Gideon, NCCRC
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