Friday, June 15, 2007

Wash. Courts and ADA

The Washington State Supreme Court has adopted GR 33 addressing the courts' obligations under the Americans With Disabilities Act. The rule becomes effective on September 1, 2007.

The Rule itself follows from the 2003 case of Tennessee v. Lane, 541 U.S. 509, 124 S. Ct. 1978, Findlaw (2004), in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that title II of the ADA applies to state courts, which are thus required toreasonably accommodate persons with disabilities. GR 33 sets up a process by which persons who may be in need of accommodations under the ADA or Washington Law Against Discrimination can make their needs formally known to the court and the court can determine how best to
accommodate them.

Section 1(c) of the rule expressly recognizes representation by counsel as a reasonable accommodation to make the courts accessible for qualified disabled persons.

The Supreme Court's adoption of the Rule and its express recognition of representation by counsel as an accommodation represents a tremendous improvement in access to justice for the disabled and is the result of tremendous effort by Washington State's Access to Justice Board's Impediments to Access to Justice Committee.

This information is from Deborah Perluss (Northwest Justice Project), via Michele Storms.

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