NACCHO Staff Report: Public Health Law & Science Seminar for Judges

Date: September 9-10, 2013
Staff Representative: Andy Roszak
Member Representative: N/A

To promote comprehensive emergency preparedness, including legal preparedness, NACCHO supported a training seminar with 45 California Judges focused on public health practice and legal issues. Throughout the course of two days, judges learned from local public health practitioners about the issues and nuances of public health. Health officials from San Diego County, the California Department of Public Health and Los Angeles County provided an overview of infectious disease, public health practice and science, biological agents, and terrorism. The training was provided by the University of Pittsburgh and also supported by ASTHO.

Judges play an important role in protecting the public health and it is important to ensure they have an awareness of the role of the courts in the administration of public health matters. During the course of the seminar, judges and public health officials discussed recent examples of legal issues and participated in a mock scenario, focusing on legal issues that may be faced when controlling the spread of infectious disease. Due process requirements, the right to counsel, the burden of proof requirements, order enforcement mechanisms, and confidentiality issues were explored in the context of the California regulatory and statutory requirements.

The legal framework that guides local health departments (LHDs) can be influenced by several factors, including varied types of local governance, home-rule jurisdiction challenges, and the interplay between local and state law. NACCHO recognizes the need for LHDs to have a solid understanding of this legal landscape and established the Public Health Law Workgroup to advance knowledge of these principles.

NACCHO, with the support of the workgroup, enhances LHD understanding of laws, policies, and regulations through the development of resources and the provision of technical assistance. The workgroup serves as a forum to discuss emerging legal issues, identify and share best practices, review new or existing legal resources and develop materials to enhance LHD practice. Learn more about NACCHO’s Public Health Law activities.

About Andy Roszak

Andrew Roszak serves as the Senior Director for Environmental Health, Pandemic Preparedness and Catastrophic Response at the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). Twitter: @AndyRoszak

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