Right to counsel

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Legislation, Civil Commitment - Subject of Petition

Iowa provides a civil right to counsel at public expense for cases where a mentally ill individual is involuntarily hospitalized. See Iowa Code § 229.8(1) (before a court determines whether a mentally ill person should be involuntarily hospitalized, "the court shall if necessary allow the respondent to select, or shall assign to the respondent, an attorney," and "[i]f the respondent is financially unable to pay an attorney, the attorney shall be compensated by the county"); Iowa Ct. R. 12.3(3)(a) (respondent "shall" be informed of "immediate right to counsel, at county expense if necessary").


Additionally, where a parent or guardian seeks to voluntarily hospitalize a mentally ill minor, "the juvenile court shall determine whether the minor has an attorney to represent the minor in the hospitalization proceeding, and if not, the court shall assign to the minor an attorney" and compensate the attorney if the minor is indigent. Iowa Code § 229.2(1)(b)(3).


Counsel is also provided to individuals when a petition for adjudication of mental retardation, and attendant civil commitment, is filed.See Iowa Code § 222.22 ("The district court shall assign counsel for the person who is alleged to have an intellectual disability."). Counsel appointed by the court "shall be compensated by the county at an hourly rate."


Indigent respondents to a petition for involuntary commitment are entitled to counsel at public expense. See Iowa Code § 125.78(1) ("The court shall allow the respondent to select an attorney or shall assign an attorney to the respondent," and "[i]f the respondent is financially unable to pay an attorney, the county shall compensate the attorney at an hourly rate"); Iowa Ct. R. 13.3(3) (respondent to involuntary commitment petition for chronic substance abuse shall be informed of "immediate right to counsel at public expense if necessary").

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no