President's Page by Jennifer Lorenz
In spite of what we all learned on Law and Order, not everyone has the right to an attorney. A criminal defendant's right to an attorney is found in the Sixth Amendment. The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that “[i]n all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right . . . to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.”
Not until 1963 was it established that criminal defendants who are unable to afford a lawyer have a right to free legal representation. The U.S. Supreme Court applied the Sixth Amendment right to legal counsel to the states in felony cases in Gideon v. Wainwright (click here for citation), 372 U.S. 335 (1963). In Gideon the Court unanimously held that "in our adversary system of criminal justice, any person haled into court, who is too poor to hire a lawyer, cannot be assured a fair trial unless counsel is provided for him." Id. The U.S. Supreme Court later found a right to free counsel in state juvenile crime cases (click here for citation) under In re Gault (click here for citation), 387 U.S. 1 (1967), and in state misdemeanor proceedings that risk “the actual deprivation of a person’s liberty” underArgersinger v. Hamlin, 407 U.S. 25, 40 (1972).
But the defendant does not have a right to free court appointed legal counsel in civil cases. As a result, a defendant is required to hire an attorney, represent him/herself or obtain legal aid.
In 2017 the median billing rate for an attorney in Colorado was $250.00 an hour and many attorneys billed in excess of $400.00 an hour (click here for citation). In 2017 the median household income in the United States was $61,372.00 (click here for citation).
For many families and individuals, hiring an attorney is not possible. Colorado Legal Services is a non-profit organization that provides legal services to low income individuals. Eligibility requirements may differ depending on age and the type and nature of the legal issue. For more information please click here. Colorado Legal Services most frequently represents seniors, women and veterans.
The Boulder office of Colorado Legal Services provides legal advice and representation to low income eligible persons and seniors in civil matters. BCLS is managed by the vivacious and enthusiastic Brett Landis and a staff of dedicated attorneys, assistants and volunteers. BCLS services are based on community and client needs. Many of BCLS services focus on matters that threaten an individual’s ability to meet their basic human needs.
Colorado Legal Services is a non-profit and its funding comes from many sources, including donations. To ensure the survival of Colorado Legal Services and make justice assessable for all, come celebrate with us on March 6, 2020 at the Justice for All Ball. Please click here to register.