Friday, March 25, 2011

Follow up on Supreme Court oral argument in Turner v Rogers

In Turner v Rogers, the Supreme Court is considering whether there is a constitutional right to court-appointed counsel in civil contempt proceedings that can result in incarceration. The ScotUS blog has all the relevant documents and briefs. The transcript of the oral argument is available here.

Amanda Rice of the ScotUS blog reports that after the oral argument, Jesse Holland of the Associated Press reported that “the Court sounded reluctant to extend the right to a taxpayer-provided lawyer . . . to civil proceedings where a person faces jail time.” Similarly, Adam Liptak of the New York Times described the Justices as “appear[ing] frustrated” during the argument, as “[i]t seemed that there were procedural and practical problems with almost every potential ruling.”

Prof. Renee Newman Knake, of the Legal Ethics Forum, adds that Adam Liptak summarizes the argument in Justices Grapple With Issue of Right to Lawyers in Child Support Cases. The ABA filed an amicus brief saying yes, "that poor people should have the right to a lawyer in civil contempt proceedings carrying a threat of jail time." Professors Ben Barton and Darryl Brown filed an amicus brief arguing no, that pro se reforms are the better alternative for ensuring justice in these types of cases.

For more comments on the case, go here and here.

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