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PJC & National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel Case in Washington State

The PJC's Appellate Advocacy Project authored an amicus curiae brief filed on March 23, 2007, for the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel ("NCCRC") in the Washington State case of King v. King (Wash. App. No. 57831-6-I). This is the second amicus brief filed on behalf of the NCCRC, and authored principally by PJC staff, in a state court considering recognition of a civil right to counsel under a state constitution. The brief was one of a number of amicus briefs addressing a wide range of issues important to court's consideration. Limited by court rules to 20 pages, the NCCRC brief focuses on the recent A merican Bar Association resolution calling for recognition of a right to counsel at public expense in categories of civil adversarial proceedings involving basic human needs. It uses the elements and underpinnings of the resolution as a structure for providing a critique of Lassiter v. Dep't of Social Services (a 1981 U.S. Supreme Court case establishing a presumption against the right to counsel in civil cases) and urges the Washington state court to consider a categorical rather than case-by-case approach to recognition of the right. Murnaghan Appellate Advocacy Fellow Janet Hostetler and Legal Director Debra Gardner worked with NCCRC members Clare Pastore and Russell Engler on the brief After the amicus briefs were filed in Washington's Court of Appeals, the case was transferred to the Washington Supreme Court and arguments will be heard in May or June.

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