Right to counsel

Key_development Question_mark

Litigation, Involuntary Medical Treatment

In Rivers v. Katz, 495 N.E.2d 337, 344 (N.Y. 1986), the New York Court of Appeals noted that the patient has a strong liberty interest in controlling his treatment (and thus refusing antipsychotic medication) that cannot be overruled absent a compelling interest, despite the fact that the patient was involuntarily committed. The court concluded that the patient had a right, under the state constitution, to a hearing determining whether his treatment should include the involuntary administration of psychotropic medication. The court added that for the hearing, "the patient should be afforded representation by counsel", but it cited to Judiciary Law § 35, making it unclear whether it was relying on a statutory provision at the time that already provided for counsel or was grafting a due process right onto the statute. But see also People ex rel Rogers v. Stanley, 17 N.Y.2d 256, 259 (1966) (citing various U.S. Supreme Court cases such as Gideon v. Wainwright, Douglas v. People of State of California, and Griffin v. People of State of Illinois, to hold that "an indigent mental patient, who is committed to an institution, is entitled, in a habeas corpus proceeding (brought to establish his sanity), to the assignment of counsel as a matter of constitutional right"); Matter of Andrea B., 405 N.Y.S.2d 977 (Fam. Ct. 1978) ( in case involving juvenile subject to involuntary commitment, court cites to Stanley as well as Powell v. State of Ala., 287 U.S. 45 (1932), for holding that "the right to counsel, including assigned counsel for the indigent is a due process right"); In re Rodriguez, 607 N.Y.S.2d 567, 568 (Sup. Ct. 1992) (relying on Stanley to hold that "an alleged incompetent has a fundamental right to representation by counsel . . . in opposing a proceeding for a committeeship" and further noting that "[a] proceeding to declare a person incompetent effectively results in a complete loss of personal liberty and property").

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no