Right to counsel

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Litigation, Guardianship/Conservatorship of Adults - Ward

In re St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hosp. Ctr., 607 N.Y.S.2d 574, 580 (Sup. Ct. 1993), aff’d, 89 N.Y.2d 889 (N.Y. 1996), the court held that

 

 [A]t least where an Article 81 petition seeks powers for a guardian of the person to either place the [allegedly impaired person] in a nursing home or other institutional facility, or to make major medical decisions, an indigent [allegedly impaired person] is constitutionally entitled to the appointment of counsel at state expense.

 

The court found that the privacy interests and risks of erroneous deprivation were high—because involuntary nursing home placement is dangerous to the person's health and because it implicates the person's liberty interests—while the state's interests (primarily the cost of providing the guardian) were low. The Court found that a forced relocation to a nursing home implicated a fundamental right akin to physical liberty.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes