Tuesday, April 25, 2017
While federal legal rights are being restricted for many people, states are slowly recognizing and expanding the civil right to counsel in matters involving significant rights. John Pollock, expert on the civil right to counsel, and coordinator, National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel, reports the following:
"In Guardianship of K.N., SJC-12195 (Mass. 2017), the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts held that while guardians of children might be considered de facto parents in certain circumstances, their parenting interest was not a liberty interest justifying a due process right to appointed counsel in proceedings to remove the guardian.
However, the court held that the Probate and Family Court could use its “broad” equitable powers to appoint counsel for an indigent guardian where it would assist in determining the best interests of the children or parental fitness, particularly 'where the child or legal parent may be unwilling or unable to present a full picture of the case to the judge, whether because the guardian has all the necessary and relevant information about the child or the legal parent has an incentive to withhold information.'”
For an earlier post on the civil right to counsel, see here .