Monday, November 3, 2008

The Indiana Law Blog: Ind. Courts - More on: "If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you."

I have written elsewhere on this blog about attorney fees in family law cases. Check out the archive labeled "Attorney Fees" under the list of prior posts by topic. I have been tardy about a post from The Indiana Law Blog More on: "If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you." that discussess the law on having an attorney appointed for contempt cases:

"Further, caselaw requires appointment of counsel in contempt situations even if the contempt proceeding is brought by a private person rather than by the state:

'we hold that where the possibility exists that an indigent defendant may be incarcerated for contempt for failure to pay child support he or she has a right to appointed counsel and to be informed of that right prior to commencement of the contempt hearing.' In re Marriage of Stariha, 509 N.E.2d 1117, at 1121 (Ind. App. 1987)"

Consider this news from England, Turf wars erupt over fees for family cases:

The Bar’s response is that — yes, there should be fixed fees for all kinds of legal aid work and that is what it is pressing for in long complex trials under the present dispute over payment for those cases. But a spokesman added: “If solicitors are not happy with their own rates of pay, that is something they should take up with the Legal Services Commission. The Bar offers good value for money — if solicitors think they are being underpaid, then make representations about it.”

The somewhat unseemly scrapping over fees is the endgame of the Carter reforms to legal aid, which brought in a new fees regime. The Bar negotiated a better deal than solicitors. It is also the upshot of the squeeze on the £2 billion a year legal aid budget.

As the legal year opened last week, family barristers expressed “dismay and concern” about the decline in the number of applications for child protection orders by local authorities — as well as the Ministry of Justice proposals to cut £12 million from the budget for family cases.

What would Hoosiers think to a more formal system like that used in England for indigent family law clients? Consider that the worsening economy will mean that some - maybe a lot of people - will not be able to afford an attorney while child uspport goes unpaid, visitation orders go unenforced and so on.

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