New Jersey State Bar Association - The voluntary Bar Association of New Jersey, serving members since 1899.

CONTACT:Barbara S. Straczynski
Acting Director of Communications

Court Rules in Favor of NJSBA Position in Child Support Obligors Incarceration Case

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—In an important case that could have imposed additional mandatory pro bono responsibilities on New Jersey attorneys, the New Jersey Supreme Court today upheld the constitutional right to counsel for child support obligors facing incarceration, but expressly stated it will not use its authority to order lawyers to provide pro bono representation to indigent obligors. In Anne Pasqua, et al v. Hon. Gerald J. Council, et al, the Court focused the responsibility on the Legislature stating, “We trust the Legislature will address the current issue.”

NJSBA President Stuart A. Hoberman issued the following statement:

“The NJSBA is pleased with the Court's decision today. It protects the constitutional rights of child support obligors without imposing additional mandatory pro bono service on the private bar. The decision ensures that indigent obligors receive knowledgeable, trained counsel, and prohibits incarceration of such obligors until an adequate funding source for counsel is provided. The NJSBA has always believed that assigning unpaid counsel, without regard for training or expertise, serves no one well -- neither the party being represented nor the court system itself. The Court aptly noted in its decision that the Legislature has acted responsibly in the past to provide funding for counsel to the poor in appropriate circumstances, and the NJSBA stands ready to assist the Legislature in doing the same.”

The NJSBA participated as an amicus curiae party in this case advocating on behalf of New Jersey lawyers that the responsibility for providing legal representation to child support obligors should not fall to the private bar as mandatory pro bono. David Rubin of Metuchen prepared the brief and argued the case for the NJSBA.

The New Jersey State Bar Association, incorporated in 1899, is dedicated to the continuing education of lawyers and the public, to reforming and improving the legal system and to aiding in the administration of justice.