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.





In Alaska, the Department of Health and Social Services "...may isolate  or quarantine an individual or group of individuals if isolation or quarantine is the least restrictive alternative necessary to prevent the spread of a contagious or possibly contagious disease to others...”  Alaska Stat. § 18.15.385(a); § 18.05.070(3) (definition of "department").  Unless the person consents to the quarantine or isolation, the department "...shall obtain a written order from the superior court authorizing the isolation or quarantine..."  Alaska Stat. § 18.15.385(d).  The department can also issue an emergency agency order for temporary quarantine or isolation, but must follow this with a petition to the court within 24 hours.  Alaska Stat. § 18.15.385(e).  Further, if a person objects to a state medical officer's order for testing, screening or examination for disease, the department must obtain an ex parte order from the court.  Alaska Stat. § 18.15.375(c)(3).  The person may request a hearing to vacate the ex parte order.  Alaska Stat. § 18.15.375(e). In each of these court proceedings, the person has a right to counsel.

There is a right to counsel for a person who is isolated, quarantined, or required to be tested under a public health order.  Alaska Stat. §§ 18.15.355-18.15.395); § 18.85.100(a); § 18.15.392.  "The attorney services and facilities and the court costs shall be provided at public expense to the extent that the person, at the time the court determines indigency, is unable to provide for payment without undue hardship."  Alaska Stat. § 18.85.100(b).  




The court may consolidate individual claims concerning quarantine or isolation into group claims as follows:

[I]f the number of individuals affected is so large as to render individual participation impractical, there are questions of law or fact common to the individual claims or rights to be determined, the group claims or rights are typical of the affected individuals’ claims or rights, and the entire group can be adequately represented. 

Alaska Stat. § 18.15.385(f).  It is unclear whether the provision concerning group claims encompasses the quarantine of an entire area; area quarantine is not specifically mentioned in Alaska Stat. § 18.15.375 nor in § 18.15.385.

The provisions above apply to persons exposed to hazardous materials and to minors.  Alaska Stat. § 18.15.385(m) & (k), respectively.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes