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Lassiter v. Department of Social Services

Significance, Further Readings


Abby Gail Lassiter


Department of Social Services of Durham County, North Carolina

Petitioner's Claim

Because she was indigent, the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause dictated that the state provide her with counsel.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

Leowen Evans

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Thomas Russell Odom

Justices for the Court

Warren E. Burger, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., William H. Rehnquist, Potter Stewart (writing for the Court), Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting

Harry A. Blackmun, William J. Brennan, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, John Paul Stevens


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

1 June 1981


Refusing to appoint counsel for an indigent parent in proceedings terminating parental status was found not to violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Related Cases

  • Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Company v. Chicago, 166 U.S. 226 (1897).
  • Betts v. Brady, 316 U.S. 455 (1942).
  • Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963).
  • Argersinger v. Hamlin, 407 U.S. 25 (1972).
  • Goss v. Lopez, 419 U.S. 565 (1975).
  • Scott v. Illinois, 440 U.S. 367 (1979).

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1981 to 1988