New York Mayor Says Right to Counsel in Civil Cases is a Good Idea but Requires Federal Help

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says he can see a day not too far away when indigent defendants have a legal right to a lawyer in civil cases.

News Story (New York)

Jacob Gershman
Wall Street Journal (WSJ)
September 29, 2015

Tags: Civil Right to Counsel


Mr. de Blasio spoke at one of a series of hearings led by the chief judge on the topic of civil legal services.

In the landmark 1963 case Gideon v. Wainwright, the Supreme Court recognized an indigent defendant’s right to an attorney in a criminal trial. But the high court has never extended the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of counsel to civil cases.

Judge Lippman has long supported the idea. His hearings are a kind of a swan song; the chief judge is stepping down from the bench at the end of the year under a mandatory retirement law.

“We are talking about the necessities, or essentials, of life,” he said earlier this year. “We mean the roof over someone’s head, we mean their physical safety, their livelihoods, the well-being of their families, entitlement issues.”