Lassiter v. Department of Social Services
United States Supreme Court
452 U.S. 18 (1981)
In spring 1975, after a hearing in district court, Abby Gail Lassiter’s (plaintiff) son, William, was adjudicated a neglected child and removed from her care and placed with the Durham County Department of Social Services (Department) (defendant). One year later, Lassiter was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to 25 to 40 years in prison. In 1978, the Department petitioned to remove Lassiter’s parental rights. The evidence presented at trial suggested that Lassiter was not fit to raise the child, and that Lassiter’s mother, Lucille, was unable to take on the additional responsibility of parenting him. The court held that Lassiter’s parental rights should be terminated, and she appealed, arguing that her Due Process rights had been violated, because she was indigent and the judge had not appointed counsel to represent her at the hearing. The North Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed, arguing that deprivation was not so great that appointment of counsel for indigents would be constitutionally required. The Supreme Court of North Carolina also affirmed, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Stewart, J.)
Dissent (Blackmun, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 724,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Berkeley, and Northwestern—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students.Unlock this case briefRead our student testimonials
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students.Learn about our approachRead more about Quimbee
Here's why 724,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 45,500 briefs, keyed to 983 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.