Right to counsel - quarantine

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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.




In the event of a catastrophic health emergency, as defined in the Public Safety Article § 14-3A-01, the Secretary of Health may "...may order an individual or group of individuals to go to and remain in places of isolation or quarantine until the Secretary determines that the individual no longer poses a substantial risk of transmitting the disease or condition to the public..."  Md. Code Ann., Health-Gen. § 18-905(a)(1)(ii); see also, Md. Code Ann., Public Safety § 14-3A-04. In addition, "...if medically necessary and reasonable to treat, prevent, or reduce the spread of the disease or outbreak believed to have been caused by the exposure to a deadly agent," the Governor can order the Secretary to "establish places of quarantine or isolation."  Md. Code Ann. § 14-3A-3(b)(3)(iii). 

The Secretary shall issue a directive to the individual or group.  Md. Code Ann. § 18-906(a); Md. Code Ann., Public Safety § 14-3A-05(a).  The individual, or group of individuals, can request a hearing to contest the isolation or quarantine.  Md. Code Ann. § 18-906(b)(1); Md. Code Ann., Public Safety § 14-3A-05(c)(1); Md. Rule 15-1103(a).  The Court can consolidate individual claims into group claims if several factors are met, including whether "entire group will be adequately represented in the consolidation."  Md. Code Ann. § 18-906(b)(7)(iv); Md. Code Ann., Public Safety § 14-3A-05(f)(1)(iv).  "The court shall appoint counsel to represent individuals or a group of individuals who are not otherwise represented by counsel."  Md. Code Ann. § 18-906(c); Md. Code Ann., Public Safety § 14-3A-05(f)(2); Md. Rule 15-1104(a). 

Separate from quarantine or isolation authority, the Governor can order people to remain in doors or stop congregating, if "...necessary and reasonable to save lives or prevent exposure to a deadly agent..."  Md. Code Ann. § 14-3A-03(d)(ii). The process above does not appear to apply to such an order.

When there is no catastrophic health emergency, the Secretary of Health can issue directives for persons with communicable diseases to isolate or quarantine. See Md. Code Regs.  The procedure to challenge such an order is not set out.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes