Right to counsel - quarantine

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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 South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is empowered to issue orders of isolation and quarantine generally and during a public health emergency.  S.C. Code Ann. § 44-1-140(10); S.C. Code Ann. § 44-4-510(A)(2).  Although quarantine of an entire area is not specifically mentioned, any order of isolation or quarantine must adhere to the procedures set out in § 44-4-540.  S.C. Code Ann. § 44-4-540(H). 

Although a temporary order of quarantine or isolation may be issued by the Department without court order, if the quarantine or isolation is to last longer than ten days, the Department must seek a court order authorizing the continuation.  S.C. Code Ann. § 44-4-540(B)(1)&(4).  Otherwise, the Department may seek a court order prior to imposing the quarantine or isolation on an individual or group.  S.C. Code Ann. § 44-4-540(C)(1).  A hearing must be held within five days.  S.C. Code Ann. § 44-4-540(C)(4).


An individual or a group facing an order of isolation or quarantine has a right to counsel.  S.C. Code Ann. § 44-4-540(F) ("The court must appoint counsel to represent individuals or groups of individuals who are or who are about to be isolated or quarantined pursuant to the provisions of this act and who are not otherwise represented by counsel.  Payment for these appointments must be made in accordance with other appointments for legal representation in actions arising outside of matters in this act....").  If multiple individual claims have been brought before the court, the court may consolidate those claims if several factors are met, including whether "...the entire group will be adequately represented in the consolidation.”  S.C. Code Ann. § 44-4-540(G)(4).


In addition, individuals who are imprisoned or confined must also be appointed counsel if they face isolation due to venereal or sexually transmitted disease. S.C. Code Ann. § 44-29-115 ("The person for whom isolation is sought must be represented by counsel at all proceedings and, if he cannot afford to hire an attorney, the court shall appoint an attorney to represent him. The attorney for the person isolated must have access to any documents regarding the isolation.")

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no