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Sidestepping Lassiter on the Path to Civil Gideon: Civil Douglas
Faculty Scholarship
  • Steven D. Schwinn, University of Maryland School of Law
Document Type
Publication Date
  • Right to counsel,
  • Gideon,
  • Lassiter,
  • Douglas

Civil Gideon advocates have at each turn faced the scourge of Lassiter v. Department of Social Services, which established (apparently out of whole cloth) a presumption that indigent litigants are entitled to appointed counsel only when physical liberty is at stake. This article proposes side-stepping that presumption by seeking a right to counsel on appeal via Douglas v. California, not a right to counsel at trial via Gideon v. Wainwright. Once established, a civil right to counsel on appeal would presage the inevitable downfall of Lassiter and the establishment of Civil Gideon. This article poses the argument in federal constitutional terms not to support arguments in the federal courts (where recognition of a categorical civil right to counsel is unlikely), but rather to support arguments under state constitutions, which follow—and which are often more flexible than—the federal constitution.

Publication Citation
40 Clearinghouse Review 217 (2006).
Citation Information
Steven D. Schwinn. "Sidestepping Lassiter on the Path to Civil Gideon: Civil Douglas" (2006)
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