University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name T.M. v. City of Philadelphia CJ-PA-0004
Docket / Court 89-cv-4630 ( E.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Juvenile Law Center
Case Summary
Five children, represented by attorneys from the Juvenile Law Center and the ACLU of Philadelphia, filed this class action on May 23, 1989 seeking appointment of counsel for all children in Philadelphia County dependency proceedings. Filed under § 1983, the complaint noted that three quarters of ... read more >
Five children, represented by attorneys from the Juvenile Law Center and the ACLU of Philadelphia, filed this class action on May 23, 1989 seeking appointment of counsel for all children in Philadelphia County dependency proceedings. Filed under § 1983, the complaint noted that three quarters of children in dependency proceedings in the Juvenile Court of Philadelphia were not represented by counsel. The plaintiffs alleged that the right to counsel was guaranteed by state law and the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment. By failing to appoint counsel for all children for whom allegations of dependency had been made, the plaintiffs alleged that the City of Philadelphia and Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, Family Division, Juvenile Branch violated the plaintiffs' due process rights. They filed this class action in the U.S. District for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against the City of Philadelphia, which was responsible for funding the Philadelphia County court system, and the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, Family Division, Juvenile Branch, which had the specific duty to appoint counsel for children. The plaintiffs sought certification of a class of “all Philadelphia children currently, or in the future, denied counsel while parties to dependency proceedings,” as well as declaratory relief, preliminary and permanent injunctions ordering the appointment of counsel for the plaintiffs at every stage of dependency proceedings, and attorneys’ fees and costs.

This case predates PACER, so we have limited information on case proceedings and the final settlement. We presume that class certification was granted. According to a report complied by the Child Welfare League of America and the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, in April 1990, the parties reached a settlement. The settlement provided for phasing in of representation so that all Philadelphia children in dependency proceedings would have counsel by April 1996. As of January 1998, the defendants had achieved compliance. The case is now closed.

Emily Kempa - 03/12/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Juveniles
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) City of Philadelphia
Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, Family Division, Juvenile Branch
Plaintiff Description Five Philadelphia children on their own behalf and on behalf of all other children who have been or will be parties to Juvenile Court dependency proceedings and deprived of their right to counsel.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Juvenile Law Center
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1990 - 1996
Filing Year 1989
Case Closing Year 1996
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
CJ-PA-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/29/1989
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Plaintiff's Lawyers Magdovitz, Samuel B. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
CJ-PA-0004-0001
Presser, Stefan (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
CJ-PA-0004-0001

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