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 Department of Health and Senior Services has authority to quarantine and isolate persons for the protection of public health.  See Mo. Ann. Stat. § 192.020, and the Missouri Code of State Regulations at 19 CSR 20-20.050(1). Isolation is defined as "...the separation for the period of communicability of infected individuals and animals from other individuals and animals, in places and under conditions as will prevent the direct or indirect transmission of the infectious agent from infected individuals or animals to other individuals or animals who are susceptible or who may spread the agent to others." 19 CSR 20-20.010(24).  Quarantine is defined as the "...restriction of movement of persons or animals that have been exposed to a communicable disease, but have not yet developed disease. The period of quarantine will not be longer than the entire incubation period of the disease. The purpose of quarantine is to prevent effective contact with the general population."  19 CSR 20-20.010(34).  

Procedures related to quarantine and isolation for communicable diseases are set out in the Missouri Code of State Regulations Title 19, Division 20, Chapter 20.  The statute and regulations are silent as to how a person affected by an order of quarantine or isolation might challenge it.  As the order is issued by an administrative agency, administrative procedures might apply, but there is no right to counsel for such procedures.

For tuberculosis specifically, the local public health authority can file a petition for commitment or Directly Observed Therapy "when a person with active tuberculosis, or a person who is a potential transmitter, violates the rules, regulations, instructions, or orders promulgated by the department of health and senior services or the local public health authority, and is thereby conducting himself or herself so as to expose other persons to danger of tuberculosis..."  Mo. Ann. Stat. § 199.180(2). Commitment is not defined in the statute.  If such a petition is filed, "the court shall appoint legal counsel for the individual named in the petition if requested to do so if such individual is unable to employ counsel."  Mo. Ann. Stat. § 199.200(2).

Alternatively, if the person with tuberculosis is an immediate threat, the local public health authority can file an "ex parte petition for emergency temporary commitment."  Mo. Ann. Stat. § 199.180(3).  If granted, the person will be confined to a facility pending a full hearing on the commitment, at which time the person would have the right to counsel.  Mo. Ann. Stat. § 199.200(5).

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes