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 Commissioner of Health has authority to isolate or quarantine individuals and groups of individuals.  Minn. Stat.  § 144.419 subd. 2.  "Isolation and quarantine must be by the least restrictive means necessary to prevent the spread of a communicable or potentially communicable disease to others..."  Minn. Stat.  § 144.419 subd. 2(b).  The due process requirements for isolation and quarantine orders are outlined in Minn. Stat. § 144.4195.

The Commissioner shall obtain an ex parte order from the District Court for the quarantine or isolation of an individual or group of individuals.  Minn. Stat. § 144.4195 subd. 1(a).  Section 144.4195 subd. 1(c)(2) also contemplates application of these procedures to a "geographical area."  The order will be immediately provided to the individual or group of individuals isolated or quarantined and will advise them of their "...right to be represented by counsel during any proceeding under this section" Minn. Stat. § 144.4195, subd. 1(b).  A court hearing will be held if the quarantine is to be longer than 21 days, and the person or group of persons can request a hearing to contest continued quarantine at any time.  Minn. Stat. § 144.4195, subd. 1(e). 

The person, or group, subject to the quarantine or isolation order has a right to counsel.  Minn. Stat. § 144.4195, subd. 5(b) ("Any person subject to isolation or quarantine has the right to be represented by counsel. Persons not otherwise represented may request the court to appoint counsel at the expense of the Department of Health or of a local public health board that has entered into a written delegation agreement with the commissioner under subdivision 7.  The court shall appoint counsel when so requested and may have one counsel represent a group of persons similarly situated...").  

A person who poses a health threat to the general public and is subject to a petition for compliance with a health directive, has the right to counsel including "...representation by counsel designated by the court or county of venue," if they are indigent.  Minn. Stat. § 144.4176, subd. 2(4).  Remedies available in a petition for compliance are outlined in § 144.4180, and include commitment (subsections 7 and 8).  

A person who is subject to an emergency hold hearing has the right to counsel. Minn. Stat. § 144.4183, subd. 2(5).  An emergency hold is a court order authorizing a "...community health board... or peace officer to take a person into custody and transport the person to an appropriate emergency care or treatment facility for observation, examination, testing, diagnosis, care, treatment, and, if necessary, temporary detention."  Minn. Stat. § 144.4182, subd. 1. 


For tuberculosis specifically, "the carrier or respondent has the right to counsel in any proceeding under sections 144.4801 to 144.4813. The court shall promptly appoint counsel for a carrier if the carrier does not have counsel." Minn. Stat. § 144.4805, subd. 4(a). The Court will appoint counsel either at the time it enters an order for continued detention of the carrier, an order for the carrier to be apprehended and held, or when either the carrier or commissioner file for a preliminary hearing.  Minn. Stat. § 144.4805, subd. 4(a)(1)-(3). 


A person who is the subject of a petition to provide a blood sample for testing for blood-borne pathogens has a right to counsel in any non-consensual proceeding.  Minn. Stat. § 144.7407, subd. 2(e). 

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no