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.





In Massachusetts, for the control of "diseases dangerous to the public health," the Board of Health has authority to "...cause any sick or infected person to be removed to such hospital or place, if it can be done without danger to his health; otherwise the house or place in which he remains shall be considered as a hospital, and all persons residing in or in any way connected therewith shall be subject to the regulations of the board, and, if necessary, persons in the neighborhood may be removed."  M.G.L. ch. 111, §95.  The procedures for isolation and quarantine are set out in the Code of Mass. Regs. at 105 C.M.R. 300.210.  Quarantine and isolation orders are applicable to the population at large and may apply to specific individuals, groups, or geographic areas. 105 C.M.R. 300.210(A)(2); 300.210(E); and, 300.210(I) (respectively).  A person, group, or member of the geographic area that has been isolated or quarantined, has the right to appeal the department's order administratively or directly to the Superior Court, but no right to counsel is articulated.  105 C.M.R. 300.210(F)(1)&(2).

A person with active tuberculosis, who is unwilling or unable to accept treatment and is a danger to public health, can be hospitalized immediately at a tuberculosis treatment center for up to 15 days.  M.G.L. ch. 111, §94A(a), (c) and (e).  After 15 days, the person must be released or a petition must be filed in accordance with M.G.L. ch. 111, §94C for commitment.  Alternatively, where "...any active tuberculosis patient in a municipal, county, state or private sanatorium or hospital indicates his desire to leave the institution against the medical advice," that person may be detained in their current institution and a petition pursuant to M.G.L. ch. 111, §94C will be immediately filed, or the person will be transported to a tuberculosis treatment center where they can be detained for 15 days and released, or a petition pursuant to M.G.L. ch. 111, §94C will be filed.  M.G.L. ch. 111, §94B.  Where a petition under M.G.L. ch. 111, §94C has been filed, the person may request a hearing and if it is "...determined that the person cannot be present because of his condition, he must be given notice of this fact and of his right to have counsel and witnesses present at the hearing. In the latter case, the court shall appoint legal counsel to represent the person’s interests at the hearing if he does not have his own legal counsel."  M.G.L. ch. 111, §94C(1).

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes