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.





The local health department or the state department of health is authorized to “provide for the involuntary detention and treatment of individuals with hazardous communicable disease…” Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.2453(2). The Department of Health “… may establish minimum procedures and standards for health officers and other persons … relating to the discovery and care of an individual having or suspected of having a communicable disease or a serious communicable disease or infection.” Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.5115.  "Care" is defined as "treatment, control, transportation, confinement, and isolation in a facility or other location."  Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.5101(1)(a). 


Upon finding that a person is a carrier of a communicable disease or a health threat to other people, a department of health representative or local health officer will issue a warning notice "...requiring the individual to cooperate with the department or local health department in efforts to prevent or control transmission of serious communicable diseases or infections..."  Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.5203(1).  A "carrier is an "...individual who serves as a potential source of infection and who harbors or who the department reasonably believes to harbor a specific infectious agent or a serious communicable disease or infection, whether or not there is present discernible disease."  Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.5201(1)(a).  A "health threat to others" is a carrier who "has demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to conduct himself or herself in such a manner as to not place others at risk of exposure to a serious communicable disease or infection."  Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.5201(1)(b).  The warning notice is issued to an individual; areas or groups of individuals are not mentioned.  Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.5203(2).  If the person does not comply with the notice, the department representative or the local health officer may file a petition for a court order.  Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.5205(1).  The court orders that can be sought are described in § 333.5205(6) and include, among others, an order to cease and desist certain conduct, to live in a supervised setting, or to be committed to a facility.  When a petition is filed, notice of a hearing will include a statement that the person has a right to counsel as described in § 333.5205(12).  Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.5205(5).  Section 12 specifies that the person "...has the right to counsel at all stages of the proceedings.  If the individual is unable to pay the cost of counsel, the circuit court shall appoint counsel for the individual.”  Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.5205(12). 

Where the court first issues an emergency order for temporary detention, such detention cannot extend past 72 hours without a court hearing, where the individual has a right to counsel.  Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.5207(1) & (3). If temporary detention is necessary beyond five days, a petition must be filed pursuant to Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.5205 and the person has a right to counsel.  Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.5207; Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.5205(12). 

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes