More than two dozen bills being considered in 18 states this year would expand poor people's rights to a lawyer at state expense in certain civil cases, according to the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel, which is run by the Public Justice Center nonprofit in Baltimore.
A look at some of the legislation:
On March 11, the state House and Senate approved a bill that would require judges to appoint lawyers with the state Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel to represent people facing involuntary outpatient treatment for substance abuse, if they cannot afford their own attorneys.
State lawmakers approved legislation that would give mentally ill people the right to a free lawyer if they cannot afford one when an order for involuntary inpatient treatment is about to expire and medical experts request continued involuntary treatment.
Lawmakers are considering a proposal to appoint free lawyers for indigent parents before hearings in which the state is seeking temporary removal of their children from their home, rather than after the hearing.
Lawmakers are considering requiring free legal counsel to poor people in certain eviction cases.
Legislators are debating a proposal to allow courts to appoint lawyers for indigent people facing termination of their parental rights.
A bill would give low-income people a right to an appointed attorney in cases involving involuntary commitment for substance abuse treatment.
Lawmakers are considering creating a right to a free lawyer for poor people facing eviction or foreclosure.
Lawmakers this month passed legislation that would appoint lawyers at state expense for financially eligible juveniles for court hearings on whether the juveniles have to register as sex offenders.
Legislators are debating a bill that would allow court-appointed lawyers at public expense to represent indigent people facing involuntary commitment for substance abuse.
Source: National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel, legislatures