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Poor Facing Jail Yet No Right to a Lawyer?

In a recent and divided decision, the Supreme Court said that there is no automatic right to counsel for people charged with civil contempt for failing to pay child support.

Michael D. Turner, the Plaintiff from South Carolina, was held in civil contempt and jailed for as much as a year for not paying child support. He argued that he was too poor to pay and that a lawyer could have helped him avoid being jailed.

Yet, in previous cases, Courts have ruled that poor people facing jail for crimes must be provided with a lawyer. Why was it any different in the present case? These decisions were rooted in the Sixth Amendment, only applicable to criminal proceedings and not to civil cases.

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