Right to counsel

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Legislation, Civil Commitment - Subject of Petition

In proceedings for the involuntary commitment of a developmentally disabled person to a residential facility, Mont. Code. Ann. § 53-20-112 states, "If the parents are indigent and the parents request it or if the guardian is indigent and the guardian requests it, the court shall order the office of state public defender to assign counsel for the parents or guardian pending a determination of indigence pursuant to 47-1-111."  See also Mont. Code Ann. §§ 47–1–104(4)(a)(vii). As to the respondent, Mont. Code. Ann. § 53-20-112 requires appointment regardless of indigence: "Upon receipt of a petition for commitment, recommitment, or emergency commitment, the court shall order the office of the state public defender, provided for in 47-1-201, to assign counsel for the respondent."  See also Mont. Code Ann. §§ 47–1–104(4)(b)(v).


In a proceeding for the involuntary commitment of a person, Mont. Code Ann. § 53-21-116 states that the court must appoint the public defender "[i]f the person is indigent or if in the court's discretion assignment of counsel is in the best interest of justice". See also Mont. Code Ann. §§ 47–1–104(4)(a)(viii)


In proceedings for the involuntary commitment of a person for alcoholism,  Mont. Code Ann. § 53-24-302 states, "The court shall inform the person whose commitment or recommitment is sought of the person's right to contest the application, be represented by counsel at every stage of any proceedings relating to the person's commitment and recommitment, and have assigned counsel pursuant to the Montana Public Defender Act, Title 47, chapter 1, if the person wants the assistance of counsel and is unable to obtain private counsel. If the court believes that the person needs the assistance of counsel, the court shall order the office of state public defender, provided for in 47-1-201, to assign counsel for the person regardless of the person's wishes."  See also Mont. Code Ann. §§ 47–1–104(4)(a)(ix).


A public defender may be appointed for litigants on appeal as well. Mont. Code Ann. § 47–1–104(4)(c).


Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no