Right to Counsel

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Legislation, Quarantine/Isolation

NOTE: this is a very complex area of law, especially as it relates to stay-at-home orders issued by the states.  Please read our primer on quarantine/isolation law before reading this specific state law.





When a public health emergency is declared, a quarantine or vaccination program may be instituted.  Ga. Code Ann. §§ 38-3-51(i), and 31-12-3(a).  For any quarantine or vaccination program instituted pursuant to a public health emergency, the procedures are outlined in Ga. Code Ann. § 38-3-51(i)(2).  An order imposing quarantine or vaccination may be challenged by an individual or a class.  Ga. Code Ann. § 38-3-51(i)(2)(C).  The order is not stayed pending the challenge.  Ga. Code Ann. § 38-3-51(i)(2)(B).  The Court, "...upon attestation of the exigency of the circumstances, may proceed ex parte with respect to the state or may appoint counsel to represent the interests of the state or other unrepresented parties."  Ga. Code Ann. § 38-3-51(i)(2)(C).  If numerous individual cases are filed, they can be consolidated.  Ga. Code Ann. § 38-3-51(i)(2)(C). 

Outside the context of a public health emergency, the Georgia Department of Public Health, and all county boards, may "...require the isolation or segregation of persons with communicable diseases or conditions likely to endanger the health of others," and "require quarantine or surveillance of carriers of disease and persons exposed to, or suspected of being infected with, infectious disease..."  Ga. Code Ann. § 31-12-4.  These orders are applicable to individuals or groups, and the procedures for implementing them are outlined in Ga. Comp. R & Regs. r. 511-9-1-.05.  Appeals from any order of local county board of health or the Department of Public Health can be taken in accordance with Ga. Code Ann. § 31-5-3.  There is no right to counsel articulated.

For tuberculosis specifically, the Department of Public Health or the local county board of health shall petition the Superior Court to commit a person to the hospital who is found to have "...active tuberculosis and is violating the rules and regulations promulgated by the department or the orders issued by the county board of health and thereby presents a substantial risk of exposing other persons to an imminent danger of infection, after having been directed by the county board of health or the department to comply with such rules, regulations, or orders..."  Ga. Code Ann. § 31-14-2.  “[The] person named as defendant shall be provided with the opportunity for the assistance of counsel.  If the defendant cannot afford counsel, the court shall appoint counsel for the defendant or the hearing examiner shall request that the court appoint such counsel; provided, however, that the defendant shall have the right to refuse in writing appointment of counsel.”  Ga. Code Ann. § 31-14-3(b).  The defendant is to be advised of this right in the notice of petition.  Ga. Code Ann. § 31-14-3(a). In addition to the above, the patient has the right to counsel in an administrative hearing contesting the continuation of confinement (Ga. Code Ann. § 31-14-8.1(b)), as well as on appeal (Ga. Code Ann. § 31-14-8.2). 

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes