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According to state records, in the 13,300 divorce cases involving children that were filed last year, 7 percent involved a “pro se” or party that was unrepresented.
Housewife Acts as Own Attorney
When Brenda King, a housewife, and her husband of ten years decided to divorce, King was forced to act as her own attorney during the five-day divorce trial.
King didn’t call any witnesses to the stand during the trial and didn’t know how to properly present evidence against her former husband, including Child Protective Services reports involving him.
Court Denies Request for New Trial
King’s husband, who received the money for an attorney from an unknown source, won the case, and as a result the mother of two only gets to see her children every other weekend.
The majority ruled that the constitutional rights to an attorney in criminal and child-welfare cases don’t extend to divorce cases when one of the parties is unable to afford an attorney.
According to Bradley Crosta, the attorney for King’s ex-husband, the stakes in divorce cases “don’t rise to the level of constitutional magnitude that requires an expense of public funds.”
Others, like Justice Barbara Madsen say that Brenda King was up against circumstances that were fundamentally unfair.
(Source: Seattle Times)
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