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No Free Attorneys in Civil Court Proceedings

In 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state courts must provide counsel in criminal cases to defendants who can't afford an attorney. Most would agree that the justice system is better off now, b

No Free Attorneys in Civil Court Proceedings

Tom Fudge: When you're arrested in the United States you are read what are called your Miranda Rights. You hear them on TV cop shows all the time. Among other things they say are that you have the right to an attorney. And if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.

It's that last line that tells people accused of a crime that they will be guaranteed access to legal counsel. But that's just for criminal cases. Not civil cases. If you want to sue someone, you've got to hire your own legal counsel. If you are a defendant in a lawsuit, you've got to hire your own legal counsel.


Naturally, that doesn't mean that everyone is able to do it. There are many people involved in civil litigation who cannot afford to hire attorneys. Now, maybe their predicaments are not quite as serious as someone who risks being put in prison and having their freedom taken away. But civil cases can cause you to lose an awful lot, including your home and custody of your children.