Los Angeles Times (LA Times)
April 20, 2019
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Tags: Civil Right to Counsel
A New York program that provides free legal representation to tenants resulted in a sharp drop in wrongful evictions, according to a recent study. Newark, N.J.; Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; Detroitand San Francisco are launching similar programs. Los Angeles, too, is considering a “right” to counsel for indigent tenants. Some of those jurisdictions extend the right to parties in child dependency and other civil cases. Many others provide a right to counsel in involuntary commitment cases.
Of course, “civil Gideon” is not a constitutional right, for tenants or anyone else. Funding for government-provided attorneys can be diverted when the next recession hits or political trends change. Representation for tenants this year could become representation for, say, domestic violence victims next year.