Posts Tagged ‘Child Neglect’

Free Custody Lawyers to be Legally Mandated Soon? Time Will Tell

Thursday, October 11th, 2018

Interestingly, government has been increasingly involved in not only health care, but in matters normally centered in private markets such as law and legal rights. After the nationalization of healthcare, is it possible that the federal government will step into the legal realm and pay for an attorney when fundamental rights (like the right to be a parent) are involved? What evidence is there that we are heading in that direction? I would suggest that we are already taking baby steps toward a higher level of government fiscal involvement in domestic law. Here is a synopsis of my thoughts on point.

Law 101 makes clear that indigent criminal defendants have the right to free counsel if they are faced with penalty of a minimum of one year of incarceration. Indigency is defined by local rules but is largely derived from the precept of ability to pay an attorney, even if income is substantial. In what I would call a “quasi-criminal” area or domestic law, the government of the State of Mississippi provides a no-cost lawyer for those charged with abuse and/or neglect of a minor in their care during youth court proceedings. Interestingly, this dynamic is not entirely askew from a criminal scenario wherein the government both prosecutes and defends an indigent criminal defendant.

This recent development of providing a parent advocate to an indigent charged with abuse/neglect in youth court seems to signify a shift toward government-provided representation in matters that involve what would be deemed fundamental rights, such as the right to be a parent. Other fundamental rights would include those contained in the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution (also known as the bill of rights), as well as rights which flow from the due process provisions included in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The youth court parent advocacy program and the provision for free representation in these matters begs another question altogether; why do we not provide a free attorney for a person who is alleged to have abused/neglected in a chancery court proceeding? Why the distinction just because of the forum? I must admit, there is no logical answer that I can fathom.

Shifting gears somewhat, I have also asked myself and my colleagues why we do not provide an indigent contempt defendant (usually someone far behind on support or alimony, or both) with free counsel. These defendants are nearly always thrown into jail until the entire delinquency is erased. Is this scenario not tantamount to the provisions in the criminal context allowing for the appointment of a no-cost public defender? It seems to me that this presents a distinction without any real difference. The lines are certainly blurry at best.

Without being too lucid about my underlying thoughts, it is very clear that we have set up some arbitrary, even capricious standards as to who gets a free attorney when, why, and how. We have taken some steps away from requiring litigants to follow the “American Rule” (yes it really is called that) wherein people must pay for their own attorneys, as opposed to the “English Rule” wherein the loser pays all legal costs. It may not happen during my career, but I expect that in the near future, the government will provide no-cost lawyers in matters that involve fundamental rights and even those such as contempt where incarceration is a real possibility.

Matthew Poole is a Jackson, Mississippi family lawyer with 15 years of litigation experience. He has managed over 1,200 domestic matters since 2004.

Attorney Matthew Poole Announces Fundraising Drive for Southern Christian Services for Children and Youth

Saturday, August 12th, 2017

So often, I, like too many others, have sat idly by as we see the suffering of others.

Sadly, so many children are the innocent victims of abuse of a parent or step-parent. Our great state is riddled with thousands of children in foster care who have been neglected our even outright abandoned by their caregivers. This is the hand they were unfairly dealt in life through no fault of their own. They were brought into a sometimes cruel and often uncaring world. It has come time to give those children a fighting chance to become productive members of society. As a community, it is our duty and calling to provide all children with a fighting chance in this world. The Law Office of Matthew Poole is committed to doing our share in the fight for the children who are not able to fight for themselves.

Southern Christian Services for Children and Youth, Inc. is a faith-based, non-profit organization that was incorporated in 1988. Their motto is “Rebuilding Broken Lives”, which emphasizes a providing healing and assistance for children and youth who have experienced abuse, neglect and abandonment as well as adequately equipping them for a more positive and productive future. Their assistance to children is often the only viable lifeline for these vulnerable youth.

Since its inception, Southern Christian Services for Children and Youth has attempted to create services that fill a need rather than duplicate services already provided by other organizations. They operate the only statewide program of post adoption services that are designed to support adoptive and foster families. They provide Therapeutic Foster Care and Adoption program that serves children with special needs. They also run an Independent Living Preparation Program, which is the only Mississippi state-wide program reaching out to all teens in the Mississippi Foster Care System.

Beginning August 10, 2017, The Law Office of Matthew Poole is offering an incentive to those who wish to join the fight in helping these children. Any of our current or future clients who pledge $100 (one-hundred dollars) will receive a discount in the amount of $200. Any of our clients who pledge $150 will receive a discount in the amount of $300 (three-hundred dollars). Please give to this invaluable cause and receive a credit toward any of the various domestic legal services that we proudly provide. As Mother Theresa once urged, “Even when you cannot do great things, you can do small things with a great heart”. Please visit Southern Christian Services for Children and Youth online at scscy.org.

Not often does an opportunity come along where giving not only costs nothing, but is mutually beneficial for the one who gives. We thank you deeply for your caring. Your small contribution truly makes a difference in the life of a child.

Thank you and God Bless,

Matthew Poole, Esq.

Matthew Poole (601) 573-7429