High court unlikely to grant right to lawyer

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The Supreme Court appears unlikely to rule that delinquent parents must be given a lawyer before judges can jail them for not paying child support.

Several justices said Wednesday they were troubled by the case of a South Carolina father who was repeatedly jailed even though he insisted he could not afford payments of $50 a week. But the court sounded reluctant about extending the right to a taxpayer-provided lawyer that exists in criminal cases to civil proceedings where a person faces jail time.

Justice Elena Kagan was among those who wondered whether there are procedures short of a court-appointed lawyer that would give a "person in this situation a fair shake at this."


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