Right to counsel

Key_development Question_mark

Legislation, Civil Commitment - Subject of Petition

A hospital may involuntary admit a patient suffering from mental illness on the medical certification of two doctors. N.Y. Mental Hyg. Law § 9.27(a). According to N.Y. Mental Hyg. Law § 47.03, "The mental hygiene legal service in each judicial department of the state shall perform the following duties: . . . To inform patients or residents ... of the patients' or residents' right ... to be represented by legal counsel ...To provide legal services and assistance to patients or residents and their families related to the admission, retention, and care and treatment of such persons, to provide legal services and assistance to subjects of a petition or patients subject to section 9.60 of this chapter, and to inform patients or residents, their families and, in proper cases, others interested in the patients' or residents' welfare of the availability of other legal resources which may be of assistance in matters not directly related to the admission, retention, and care and treatment of such patients or residents.")  See also N.Y. Mental Hyg. Law § 9.27(f) ("Following admission to a hospital, no patient may be sent to another hospital by any form of involuntary admission unless the mental hygiene legal service has been given notice thereof."); N.Y. Mental Hyg. Law § 9.39(a)(2) (when person alleged to be mentally ill and involuntarily admitted to hospital pursuant to emergency procedure, mental health legal service is notified and can schedule a hearing); N.Y. GL ch. 123, § 9 (“Any person may make written application to a justice of superior court at any time and in any county, stating that he believes or has reason to believe that a person named in such application is retained in a facility or the Bridgewater state hospital, who should no longer be so retained ... giving the names of all persons interested in his confinement ...and requesting his discharge or other relief … The justice shall appoint an attorney to represent any applicant whom he finds to be indigent.”)


A court also may appoint counsel "in a civil proceeding to commit or transfer a person to or retain him in a state institution when such person is alleged to be mentally ill, mentally defective or a narcotic addict." N.Y. Jud. Law §35(1)(a).


Patients involuntarily committed to a facility, whose objections to their care and treatment were overruled, have a right to have legal counsel appear for them to appeal the treatment decision. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 14, § 27.8(d).

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no