Right to counsel

Key_development Question_mark

Legislation, Quarantine/Inoculation of Individual

There is a right to counsel for a person with tuberculosis who is subject to a court order for involuntary commitment or isolation.  There is no right to counsel for other orders of isolation or quarantine.

If a public health emergency has been declared, N.J. Stat. Ann. § 26:13-15 sets out the isolation and quarantine procedures that shall be in effect.  The person, or group of people, subject to a quarantine or isolation order issued during a public health emergency, may contest it and “the petitioner shall have the right to be represented by counsel.”  N.J. Stat. Ann. § 26: 13-15(g)(1); see also N.J. Admin. Code 8:57-1, Appx. B (1.8)(a)(1).  However, there is no mention of the appointment of counsel for indigent petitioners.


If there is no public health emergency, the Department of Health is empowered to "maintain and enforce proper and sufficient quarantine, wherever deemed necessary," and to remove any person with a communicable disease to a suitable place.  N.J. Stat. Ann. § 26:4-2(d), and (e).  The procedure to contest the order is not mentioned. 

A person may be quarantined for venereal disease, but there is no right to counsel articulated. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 26:4-37. 

For tuberculosis specifically, the commitment and isolation of persons is governed by Title 30 (titled "Institutions and Agencies").  N.J. Stat. § 30:4-24.  A person who is the subject of a court hearing for involuntary commitment to treatment, has "...the right to be represented by counsel, or, if indigent by appointed counsel."  N.J. Stat. Ann. § 30:4-27.14(a).  At a hearing for involuntary commitment, the patient "...shall have counsel present at the hearing and shall not be permitted to appear at the hearing without counsel."  N.J. Stat. Ann. § 30:4-27.12(d).  The right to counsel extends to a conversion from involuntary to voluntary status (N.J. Court Rules, R. 4:74-7(g)(1)&(2)), and to all placement review proceedings (N.J. Court Rules, R. 4:74-7(h)(2).  The New Jersey Court Rules specify that a court order for temporary commitment pursuant to Title 30 shall include the "assignment of counsel to represent an unrepresented patient, whose fees shall be fixed by the court after hearing and paid pursuant to paragraph (i) of this rule."  N.J. Court Rules, R. 4:74-7(c)(3). 

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes