- There is a pre-eminent generalization that everyone has the right to an attorney. It is only reserved for people in big trouble who risk the chance of losing personal liberty
- Interest of the plaintiff: Huge! She doesn’t want to have her son taken away
- Interest of the government: they mostly care about time and money
- Concern for whether the trial will result in an erroneous decision and obstruct rights
Saturday, May 17, 2014
Lassiter v. Department of Social Services case brief summary
Lassiter v. Department of Social Services
Facts: Mom (Lassiter) was neglecting her son in 1975. Then she murdered someone in 1976 giving her 25 – 40 years in prison. Two more years pass and she doesn’t contact her son. The Department of Social Services files a petition to permanently terminate her parental rights. If this happens she would never see her son again.
Problems with the trial: Lassiter foolishly chose not to have counsel. She didn’t stop the prosecution for submitting hearsay testimony. The cross-examination was a disaster because Lassiter did not actually ask questions.
Defendant’s appeals: Lassiter claimed that she was indigent and should have had a lawyer. She is claiming that the court violated her 14th Amendment due process right. She wants a retrial.
Holding: Lassiter is not given a retrial.
· Every issue needs to be evaluated on a case-by-case circumstance
· There is overwhelming evidence that regardless of what Lassiter says, she didn’t really care about her son. Because of this, it wouldn’t matter if she had a lawyer or not
Dissent: Taking someone’s child is a unique kind of deprivation. Regardless of if the case would have come out the same whether Lassiter had a judge or not, it does not mean that due process should be denied.
Rule: There is no absolute right to an attorney. Every case needs to be looked at individually.
Problems: This is not efficient because it means that there needs to be a “pre-case” case to determine if there is the right to an attorney. It is not accurate because lawyers know the rules of law, and leaving defendants without a lawyer won’t produce accurate results.
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