Indigent Parents Alleging That Appointed Lawyer Was Ineffective

In L.W. v. Department of Children & Families, 812 So. 2d 551 (Fla. 1st DCA 2002)., the First District found, under the facts of that case, that the indigent parents could pursue a habeas proceeding alleging that appointed counsel was ineffective. The parents in L.W. were faced with a petition for dependency where the father was alleged to have sexually abused the stepdaughter and the mother failed to protect her daughter. The petition also alleged that two sons were at risk for prospective abuse based on the alleged sexual abuse of the stepdaughter and the mother's failure to protect. The parents denied the allegations, and an attorney was appointed to represent them. In finding that the parents in L.W. had a constitutional right, not just a statutory right, to the appointment of counsel, the First District relied on this Court's opinion in.