Climate Change Project

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The Courts and Public Health

Edward P. Richards
Director, The Climate Change and Public Health Law Site
Harvey A. Peltier Professor of Law, LSU Law Center

Also See: H1N1; Quarantine; Tuberculosis; Public Health Law Map; Topics


CDC Panflu Update Page

Guidelines for Pandemic Emergency Preparedness Planning: A Road Map for Courts, BJA, April 2007. - This is an excellent general guide to both the legal issues that may come up and the problems in assuring continuity of legal operations.

Florida has the best set of materials for continuity of operations (original link):

Florida State Courts Strategy for Pandemic Influenza - 2006

Epidemics and the California Courts - This is a good guide to continuity of operations issues.

Edward P. Richards, Katharine C. Rathbun, Corina Solé Brito, and Andrea Luna: The Role of Law Enforcement in Public Health Emergencies: Special Considerations for an All-Hazards Approach. DOJ Guide. September 2006 - This was prepared for the Department of Justice as a guide for law enforcement, but the general principles are also applicable to non-law enforcement institutions. It address panflu from an all hazards approach.

The Canadian SARS Commission published very detailed reports on the problems they encountered in managing the SARS outbreak.

General Emergency Preparedness

Being Prepared: Protecting Your Family From Hurricanes, Earthquakes and Other Disasters - While there are a lot of materials on emergency preparedness for institutions, they miss the fundamental problem that if you and your staff are not personally prepared, you are not going to be at work. This is a practical guide to family preparedness, written in a common sense manner, that shows how to incorporate emergency preparations into daily life, and gives concrete information on what to do when the emergency strikes. The author has made it available on the WWW as a public service.

Public Health Law Materials

This is a CDC page with links to public health law bench books. - While these are may provide background on specific state laws, they do not provide a useful frame for analyzing public health law questions in legal cases. Public health law is pure administrative law, yet the bench books ignore administrative law jurisprudence. They are more of a collection of case blurbs like a bar practice book. Courts should look to the arguments and briefs of counsel in these cases, especially expert state public health counsel, rather than relying on bench books.

The LSU Law Center's The Climate Change and Public Health Law Site has the largest public access collection of public health law materials. For information on public health law as part of classic administrative law, see:

Edward P. Richards, Dangerous People, Unsafe Conditions The Constitutional Basis for Public Health Surveillance. 30 Journal of Legal Medicine 25:50 (2009)

Edward P. Richards, Public Health Law as Administrative Law, 10 Journal of Health Care Law & Policy 61-88 2007.

Richards EP, Rathbun KC. Making state public health laws work for SARS outbreaks. Emerg Infect Dis Feb 2004.

Edward P. Richards, "Collaboration between Public Health and Law Enforcement: The Constitutional Challenge," Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 8, No. 10, p.1157-1159 (October 2002)

Edward P. Richards and Katharine C. Rathbun, "The Role of the Police Power in 21st Century Public Health", Journal of Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 1999;26(6):350-7 - this article discusses the constitutional basis of public health orders.

Edward P. Richards, The Jurisprudence of Prevention: The Right Of Societal Self-Defense Against Dangerous Persons, 16 Hast Const L Q 320 (1989) - a historical review of police powers, which anticipated the current use of public health and administrative law theories in criminal (sexual predator) and national security law cases.


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