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

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NJSBA To Argue Against Mandatory Pro Bono Assignments in Child Support Cases

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The New Jersey State Bar Association’s argument in Pasqua v. Council will be the first case heard by the New Jersey Supreme Court on Monday, Oct. 24 at 10 a.m., when the NJSBA will assert its objection to an extension of mandatory pro bono for the representation of indigent child support obligors facing incarceration. The arguments in Pasqua can be heard live via the NJ Supreme Court webCAST at David B. Rubin of David B. Rubin, PC in Metuchen will argue on behalf of the NJSBA.

The NJSBA does not take a position on whether child support obligors have a right to counsel. However, the association maintains that if the court decides that indigent child support obligors are entitled to counsel, then representation of these individuals should not fall to the private bar as another pro bono assignment, but that the Court should impose the obligation on an appropriate agency of government.

“The NJSBA wholeheartedly supports voluntary pro bono and this is demonstrated through the work of our Pro Bono Committee, our Bankruptcy Law Section’s Pro Bono Bankruptcy Panel, the many charitable projects of our Young Lawyers Division and by the enthusiastic pro bono service performed by individual lawyers, law firms and corporate law departments throughout the state,” says NJSBA President Stuart A. Hoberman.

“The association recognizes individuals who give selflessly of their time to help others with the NJSBA Annual Pro Bono Award. Individuals needing legal representation deserve qualified representation, and the scenarios where we oppose saddling the bar with mandatory pro bono assignments often involve an inefficient and unjust solution for the indigent defendants because of the complexity and specialized knowledge required in these matters.”

The Pasqua case stems from an April 2003 decision by Mercer County Assignment Judge Linda Feinberg which held that child support obligors facing coercive incarceration at a hearing to enforce litigant’s rights have a constitutional right to counsel. In September 2004, the Appellate Division reversed the order stating that the trial judge failed to follow another Appellate Division panel’s ruling that there is no Sixth Amendment right to counsel in civil contempt proceedings for nonpayment of support.

The NJSBA was the moving force behind the Municipal Public Defender Law and was instrumental in the passage of the Adoption and Safe Families Act, both of which require legal representation by attorneys qualified to handle those cases.

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.