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Amdt6.6.3.6 Noncriminal and Investigatory Proceedings and Right to Counsel

Sixth Amendment:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

The Court has construed the applicability of the right to counsel, or lack thereof, in various noncriminal and investigatory proceedings as a matter of the Due Process Clause rather than the Sixth Amendment. For example, commitment proceedings that lead to the imposition of essentially criminal punishment are subject to the Due Process Clause and require the assistance of counsel.1 However, a state administrative investigation by a fire marshal inquiring into the causes of a fire was held not to be a criminal proceeding and hence, despite the fact that the petitioners had been committed to jail for noncooperation, not the type of hearing at which counsel was requisite as a matter of Due Process.2 In another decision, the Court refused to extend the Due Process-based right to counsel to a non-prosecutorial, fact-finding inquiry akin to a grand jury proceeding, even though the defendants in the case were subsequently prosecuted and sentenced for contempt in refusing to testify at the inquiry on the ground that their counsel were required to remain outside the hearing room.3

Specht v. Patterson, 386 U.S. 605, 608, 610 (1967). back
In re Groban, 352 U.S. 330, 332, 334–35 (1957). back
Anonymous v. Baker, 360 U.S. 287, 289, 290–91, 295 (1959); see also United States v. Williams, 504 U.S. 36, 49 (1992) ( “We have twice suggested, though not held, that the Sixth Amendment right to counsel does not attach when an individual is summoned to appear before a grand jury, even if he is the subject of the investigation.” ) (citing In re Groban, 352 U.S. at 333 and United States v. Mandujano, 425 U.S. 564, 581 (1976)). back