WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to decide whether poor people who face incarceration for civil contempt are entitled to court-appointed lawyers.If a man is facing a year in prison, then he should have all the same rights of any other defendant who is facing a year in prison.
In a series of decisions starting with Gideon v. Wainwright in 1963, the Supreme Court has held that poor people facing the loss of liberty for crimes must be provided with lawyers. The question in the new case, Turner v. Price, No. 10-10, is whether that right also applies where incarceration is meant to be coercive rather than punitive.
The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled in March that Michael D. Turner, who was held in civil contempt and sentenced to a year in prison for failing to pay child support, had no constitutional right to a lawyer. The point of the sentence was to make Mr. Turner pay rather than to punish him, the court said. ... As it happened, Mr. Turner served the entire sentence.
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Court to consider dads held in contempt
The federal courts avoid family court issues as much as they can, but another one has gotten the attention of the US Supreme Court. The NY Times reports: