Monday, April 17, 2006

disability - continuance - lack of counsel - perfunctory hearing

Curry v. Barnhart - ED Pa. - April 13, 2006

The court remanded the case for a de novo hearing where
- claimant was a 60 y/o illiterate person
- first attorney agreed to represent claimant only if he got a continuance
- first attorney got a continuance, but in the interim claimant got a second attorney
- second attorney got the hearing continued again, but then decided not to represent claimant
- second attorney went to hearing only to say he wasn't representing claimant
- ALJ asked the claimant if he had any objection to having the hearing; claimant did not object
- There was "no attempt to explain to petitioner the pros and cons of proceeding without legal representation"
- The "ALJ hearing was perfunctory at best
- The claimant "did not knowingly and intelligently waive his right to be represented by counsel"
- "[B]asic fairness dictates that the case be remanded...with representation of the petitioner by counsel."