Court urged to uphold right to indigent defense counsel in civil cases

The American Bar Association on Tuesday filed an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court of the United States in support of the petitioner in Michael D. Turner v. Rebecca L. Rogers, regarding the constitutional right to appointment of counsel for an indigent defendant who faces incarceration at a civil contempt hearing. The ABA argues that the Supreme Court of South Carolina erred in holding there was no such constitutional right in a case in which failure to pay child support resulted in the petitioner's incarceration.

The ABA urges that, where a person's liberty interest is at stake, the provision of counsel should not depend on whether a proceeding is labeled "civil" or "criminal." The ABA also urges that representation in these cases is essential to ensure both the fair and efficient administration of justice.

The brief is available online at

Published: Thu, Jan 13, 2011