The Committee for Indigent Representation and Civil Legal Equity (CIRCLE), made a presentation on the next steps to securing a right to counsel for civil cases that involve basic Human Rights, in the wake of the Supreme Court of Washington’s ruling on In re the marriage of King stating that the court does not have the authority to create a right to counsel under the Washington State Constitution. The last WSBA ATJ Board meeting I attended was in late October and there was a lot of hope that the King case could be a leading case for creating a limited right to counsel in civil suits where basic Human rights are at stake. Now that the case has resolved unfavorably, CIRCLE and the ATJ Board are looking at alternative ways to bring about these rights.
The three main alternatives discussed were:
- Launch a pilot project to test the advantages and impact of the right to counsel as part of the State Plan
- Create a Task Force to actively identify and undertake incremental steps to expand the civil right to counsel. This Task Force would focus on bringing in stake holders, e.g. judges, advocates, public defense leaders, researchers
- Request to WSBA to form a Task Force to identify options and alternative solutions
Q: What exactly is CIRCLE?
A: CIRCLE is an active committed committee that has staff support from Northwest Justice Project (NJP). The members of the committee are from several different sectors of the legal system. Funding comes from NJP.
Q: Where would the implementation and money come from to make this right to counsel happen?
A: That is the big question and the area where solutions need to be found.
This presentation was made by Northwest Justice Project.