ADA Judicial Compliance Project
The ADA Judicial Compliance Project is analyzing the policies of California’s judicial branch entities and the practices of their officers, employees, and agents to determine if they are in conformity with state and federal disability nondiscrimination laws. Emphasis is placed on determining whether these policies and practices enhance access to justice for litigants with cognitive disabilities, especially in probate conservatorship proceedings. Entities include the Judicial Council, Supreme Court, all districts of the Court of Appeal, and all 58 superior courts. Officers include justices, judges, commissioners and judges pro tem. Employees include clerks, court investigators, ADA compliance officers, probate examiners, and all staff employed within the judicial branch. Federal disability nondiscrimination laws include the United States Constitution, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1974, as well as regulations implementing those provisions. State nondiscrimination laws include the California Constitution, Government Code Section 11135, and Section 4502 of the Welfare and Institutions Code (Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act), as well as regulations implementing those statutory provisions.
A report will be issued to the Chief Justice, Governor, and Legislature with informational copies being sent to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice. Copies will also be sent to the administrative presiding justices of each district of the Court of Appeal and to the presiding judges of the superior courts in all 58 counties.
The project will also file an administrative ADA grievance with the Judicial Council to follow up with a report previously issued to that entity regarding omissions and misleading information in court rules, judicial standards, and educational materials regarding the duties of officers , employees, and agents of the judicial branch to provide modifications and accommodations to litigants with known cognitive or mental disabilities even without a request. The Judicial Council’s ADA grievance procedure states that it “may be used by anyone who wishes to file a complaint alleging discrimination on the basis of disability in the provision of services, activities, programs, or benefits by the Judicial Council.” (Judicial Council of California, Americans with Disabilities Act Grievance Procedure) The grievance procedure was established as a way of “ensuring uniform, prompt, and equitable resolution of all disability-related complaints or requests for disability accommodation in providing its services, programs, and activities to the public.” (Judicial Council Staff Report, July 13, 2017)
The project is directed by attorney Thomas F Coleman with research assistance from law student Maria Reyes Olmedo.