In Re Marriage of King: Amicus Curiae Brief of International Law Scholars in Support of Appellant

Raven Lidman
Martha F. Davis


This amicus brief, submitted to the Supreme Court of Washington State in King v. King, 162 Wash.2d 378 (2007), addresses the right to counsel under transnational law and argues that this body of law is relevant to determining the scope of the right to counsel in Washington. The persuasive value of transnational law has been accepted by United States courts at all levels. These legal authorities are particularly relevant to state court jurisprudence, since our federal system accords states the primary responsibility for fulfilling many of our international human rights obligations. In King v. King, a child custody case, the value of looking to foreign and international law is especially high. It was a family law case in which the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) made the landmark decision that a "fair trial" often may require the assistance of counsel. Airey v. Ireland, 32 Eur. Ct. H.R. (ser. A) (1979). That decision reflected the jurisprudence of two thirds of the then-member states of the Council of Europe (COE). The right to publicly provide civil legal counsel extends back centuries in some countries and across diverse legal, cultural, and political traditions. The amicus brief urges the Supreme Court of Washington to accord respect to the right to civil counsel both within our common law tradition and within other legal systems.