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2013 May - June

A New National Movement in Parent Representation

By Susan Jacobs & Martin Guggenheim

Although the U.S. Supreme Court held in 1981 that parents were not entitled to court-assigned counsel in every decision to terminate parental rights, there is a vigorous national movement for indigent parents to have such counsel. Most states now recognize that indigent parents have a right to such counsel, and more and more states are recognizing the need for a new model of representation—incorporating social workers and parent advocates into child welfare practice.

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Ten Years In and Picking Up Steam

A Retrospective on the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel

By Mary Deutsch Schneider & John Pollock

On the fiftieth anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright efforts are growing to realize a right to counsel not just in criminal cases but also, for low-income people, in civil cases affecting basic human needs. In its ten years of advocacy the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel has drawn attention to the impact of the lack of the right and has helped advocates around the country strategize about how to achieve the right in their states.

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Bridging the Divide Between Civil Legal Aid Lawyers and Public Defenders

By Hong Tran

Having worked as a civil legal services attorney and working now as a public defender teaches multiple lessons about what each side should know about the other. Public defenders need a better understanding of collateral consequences of criminal convictions, while civil advocates should appreciate the pressures that defenders experience from clients who wish to accept plea bargains in order to reduce time spent incarcerated. Clients will benefit from affirmative efforts by both civil advocates and defenders to collaborate, share information, and create easy-to-use communication channels.

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How to Make a Farmers’ Market

The Legal Structure Behind Local Food

By Erin Kee & Jason Foscolo

Farmers’ markets are more than a place to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. They are neighborhood hubs where consumers learn about agriculture, people reconnect with friends, and farmers share information. Farmers’ markets are also sophisticated legal entities, and public interest lawyers can help create, maintain, and publicize markets’ endeavors.

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Using the National Mortgage Settlement to Help Clients in Foreclosure

By Peggy P. Lee

The federal government and forty-nine states reached a $25 billion settlement, in March 2012, with the “Big Five” mortgage servicers over loan servicing and foreclosure abuses. The settlement established national mortgage servicing standards that legal services attorneys can use as a tool to protect their clients’ homes. Advocates can report mortgage-servicing abuses to the National Association of Consumer Advocates Attorneys General National Mortgage Settlement Survey Database.

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Variations on an Unconstitutional Theme

Restrictions on Interstate Use of Cash Benefits

By Deborah Harris & Julia Schlozman

Stories about “welfare money” being used out of state for frivolous purposes have prompted legislators in some states to propose laws that would restrict access to and spending of cash benefits to a recipient’s home state. Minnesota passed such a restriction in 2012. Prohibitions or restrictions on out-of-state access to or spending of cash benefits are constitutionally flawed because they interfere with interstate commerce and unreasonably burden the right to travel.

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About This Issue

By Marcia Henry & Ilze Sprudzs Hirsh

Three articles in this issue commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on the right to indigent defense and the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel, which the ruling inspired.

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