Right to counsel

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Legislation, Quarantine/Inoculation of Individual

There is a right to counsel for a person who is the subject of an immediate involuntary commitment application before the court due to tuberculosis, but not for other types of isolation or quarantine.

In general, the State health director "...is empowered to establish and strictly maintain quarantine at such places as he may deem proper and forbid and prevent the assembling of the people in any place, when the state director of health or any county or municipal health officer deems that the public health and safety so demand..."  W. Va. Code § 16-3-1; see also, W. Va. Code § 16-3-2.  For the prevention of communicable disease spread, the commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health and local health officers may quarantine, isolate, and placard.  W. Va. Code of State Rules § 64-7-21.  Persons who are adversely affected are directed to the administrative contested case procedures.  W. Va. Code of State Rules § 64-1-4.  In an administrative contested case, any party has the right to be represented by an attorney qualified to practice in West Virginia.  W. Va. Code of State Rules § 64-1-4 (4.6.a).  Appointment of counsel is not mentioned.


For tuberculosis specifically, where a person with tuberculosis is alleged to be "...uncooperative or irresponsible with regard to treatment, quarantine or safety measures, presents a health menace to others, and is in need of immediate hospitalization," the commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health or a local health officer can apply to the court for their "...immediate involuntary commitment."  W. Va. Code § 16-3D-9(a).  Upon the filing of the application, the court may order the "...individual named in the action to be detained and taken into custody for the purpose of holding a probable cause hearing."  W. Va. Code § 16-3D-9(b).  "The order shall specify that the hearing be held forthwith and shall appoint counsel for the individual..."  W. Va. Code § 16-3D-9(b).

There is no right to counsel for persons subject to a quarantine order due to venereal disease.  W. Va. Code § 16-4-21.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes