Voice of America looks at right to counsel in civil legal cases

A Voice of America story about the right to counsel in civil legal cases–and the lack of that right in the U.S.–focused on Maryland Legal Aid clients.

From the article:

Each year, millions of non-criminal cases in the United States are heard in civil court – cases involving child custody battles, housing evictions and other issues, including the case of Juliana Holmes in Baltimore, Maryland. Holmes’ estranged husband took away their three children when she was living in another state – and she could not afford a lawyer to get them back.

“He just took them out of the state of North Carolina so I moved here to follow my kids,” said Holmes.

Holmes eventually got joint custody of her children with the help of a private organization called Maryland Legal Aid, which provided her with a lawyer at no cost.

Trish Cochran was her attorney. She’s among a growing number of lawyers and judges who think the right to an attorney, for critical civil cases such as these, should be a basic legal right in the United States. Right now, it is not.

“People have a constitutional right to their children; a right to have just some place to live; to have access to the resources that are available. It’s just that people don’t always have the savvy [knowledge] to get the resources that are there for them,” said Cochran.

To read the entire article and watch the video, click here.


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