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"This Issue Will Not Go Away..."

Continuing to Seek the Right to Counsel in Civil Cases

By John Nethercut

Last year, in Frase v. Barnhart, Maryland's highest court, in a 4-to-3 decision, refused to decide whether a parent threatened with loss of custody of her child to an unrelated couple had a state constitutional right to counsel. Plaintiff's counsel, the Public Justice Center, is continuing to pursue this "civil Gideon" right to counsel in Maryland. The center has recruited pro bono attorneys to research bases for the right in other states and is spearheading discussions among advocates nationally about the most promising state-level strategies.

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