New York Times,
Metro Briefing: New Jersey

Published: September 29, 2003

TRENTON: INDIGENT PARENTS TO BE FREED Indigent parents jailed in New Jersey for failure to pay child support will be freed because they were denied court-appointed lawyers, the Administrative Office of the Courts said. Probation officers already have begun interviewing people jailed for nonpayment of child support to identify those who are too poor to afford their own lawyers, Winnie Comfort, a spokeswoman, said on Friday. Those who qualify as indigent will be released, she said. In May, a Superior Court judge ruled that poor people facing incarceration over nonpayment of child support have the right to a court-appointed lawyer. The ruling left the state with two options: providing lawyers to poor people accused of child-support nonpayment or not jailing the indigent in such cases. Ms. Comfort said the state will remove the threat of jail because no pool of lawyers exists for such cases.  (AP)