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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ind. Decisions - More on today's Supreme Court decision on right to appellate counsel in termination proceedings

For the implications of the Supreme Court decision today in Term. of Parent-Child Rel. of I.B.; M.L. v. IDCS (see ILB summary here) concerning the right to counsel in civil cases, particularly with respect to a parent fighting termination, I contacted Joel Schumm, the IU Indy law professor who wrote the petition to transfer and argued the case before the Supreme Court in June. His response:

This is a wonderful opinion for the hundreds of engaged and involved parents whose rights are involuntarily terminated every year. The Court of Appeals had held these parents had no statutory right to appellate counsel. The Supreme Court disagreed and made clear the right to appointed counsel continues to appeal, where a lawyer's assistance is especially important.

The second part of the opinion provides clear and workable guidance to appointed counsel whose clients do not appear at a termination hearing or cannot be located after the court issues its ruling. Absent direction from the client, a notice of appeal should not be filed.

The ILB has had number of earlier entries about this case, including; (1) the COA opinion summary on 2/17/10; and (2) copies of the petition to transfer, response, and reply. The Appellant's reply brief began:
This case is not simply about the right to appointed appellate counsel for a mother who has shown no recent interest in being a parent. Rather, the breadth of the Court of Appeals’ opinion affects hundreds of termination proceedings litigated around the state every year in which parents are fighting desperately for their right to maintain a relationship with their children. For many years and in many counties, these parents have routinely been appointed counsel for appeal. If the Court of Appeals’ opinion stands, appellate counsel will routinely be denied to many—and potentially all—of those parents, and there will be no appellate review of termination proceedings.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 21, 2010 06:46 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions