When the state seeks to have someone involuntarily committed for inpatient mental-health treatment, that individual is entitled to a hearing, and the state will appoint an attorney to represent them. However, courts have not decided whether the right to counsel in such circumstances is a constitutional right, and if ineffective assistance of counsel violates such a right. In 2021 the Michigan Court of Appeals invited the ACLU of Michigan to file a friend-of-the-court brief addressing these questions. We filed a brief arguing that people facing civil commitment have a constitutional right to effective representation, noting that the hearings often result in the deprivation of a person’s liberty and there is a significant risk of wrongful imprisonment absent effective assistance from an attorney. In February 2022 the Court of Appeals issue a published opinion adopting our position and setting precedent for the entire state. (In re Londowski; ACLU Attorneys Rohit Rajan and Dan Korobkin.)
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