MSPB: No Absolute Right to Counsel


Recently, a Federal employee argued the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) “abused its discretion” by failing to appoint (and pay for) an attorney to represent her before the Board concerning her removal (“firing”) from the Internal Revenue Service. The appeals court rejected her argument (see, Taylor v. Merit Systems Protection Board (CAFC No. 2013-3037, 7/16/13, nonprecedential)).  In short order, Federal employees do not have a constitutional right to court appointed counsel as the court notes, such counsel (court appointed) “is usually limited to criminal cases, and generally applies to civil cases…only when an indigent party’s liberty is potentially threatened.” (see, P.4).

What This Does Not Mean

The decision of the Board in this case should not be interpreted to mean you do not have a right to a representative before MSPB or professional consultation in connection with your appeal.  It simply means you will have to pay the cost as the Board will not appoint a representative or consultant for you.

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