Right to counsel

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Legislation, Civil Commitment

Mich. Comp. Laws § 330.1454 states:


(1) Every individual who is the subject of a petition is entitled to be represented by legal counsel.

(2) Unless an appearance has been entered on behalf of the subject of a petition, the court shall, within 48 hours after its receipt of any petition together with the other documents required by section 452, appoint counsel to represent the subject of the petition, except that if an individual has been hospitalized under section 423 or 438, counsel shall be appointed within 24 hours after the hospitalization.

(3) If, after consultation with appointed counsel, the subject of a petition desires to waive his or her right to counsel, he or she may do so by notifying the court in writing.

(4) If the subject of a petition prefers counsel other than the initially appointed counsel, the preferred counsel agrees to accept the appointment, and the court is notified of the preference by the subject of the petition or the preferred counsel, the court shall replace the initially appointed counsel with the preferred counsel.

(5) If the subject of a petition is indigent, the court shall compensate appointed counsel from court funds in an amount that is reasonable and based upon time and expenses.

(6) The supreme court may, by court rule, establish the compensation to be paid for counsel of indigents and may require that counsel be appointed from a system or organization established for the purpose of providing representation in proceedings governed by this chapter.


Persons subject to guardianship also have the right to counsel in involuntary mental health treatment matters.  Although a guardian has authority to consent on the protected person's behalf for "medical, mental health, or other progressional care, counsel, treatment or service[,]" a guardian cannot consent to or approve of inpatient hospitalization unless the court has expressly granted this power in the court order. Mich. Comp. Laws § 700.5314(c).  If the protected person objects or actively refuses mental health treatment, the guardian must follow the procedures in the mental health code for involuntary mental health treatment. Id. 


In regards to appeals, “[w]hen an individual receiving involuntary mental health treatment has been returned to a hospital from an authorized leave in excess of 10 days, the director of the center must, within 24 hours, notify the court of the return and notify the individual of the right to appeal the return and have a hearing to determine the appeal.” Mich. Ct. R. 5.743(B).

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no