Amicus curiae brief the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Brennan Center for Justice, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, the Southern Center for Human Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union is support of petitioner.
Argument: Providing counsel to an indigent individual facing jail time in a civil contempt hearing is essential to prevention of wrongful incarceration. Indigent contemnors lack the courtroom skills to effectively represent themselves in complex proceedings; presence of counsel helps to ensure that only willful contemnors are incarcerated. The Supreme Court should provide clear guidance to the states that the Constitution requires appointment of counsel whenever personal liberty is threatened; appointment of counsel for alleged contemnors will ensure due process and help prevent wrongful incarcerations without imposing a significant burden upon the states.
Amicus curiae brief of the ACLU Foundation, South Carolina National Office, the Brennan Center for Justice, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, and the South Carolina Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in support of appellant Michael Turner.
Argument: Because the Sixth Amendment requires that courts appoint counsel for indigent defendants where imprisonment is a possibility, South Carolina family court are required to appoint counsel to represent indigent defendants in family court child support nonpayment proceedings where imprisonment is a possibility.