[nfbmi-talk] full justice denied and the ada elephant in the room

joe harcz Comcast joeharcz at comcast.net
Wed Dec 29 07:14:48 CST 2010


December 27, 2010

To: MCB Board Members, NFB, ACB, and More

 

Some notes on the following story here:

 

Yes, state and local courts are required to be accessible to people with disabilities (including effective communications with the blind, deaf and others) under Title II of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Moreover, this obligation was underscored in the United States Supreme Court case, Tennessee v. Lane.

 

Now, here is but another position that Patrick D. Cannon has been derelict in his duties for he, the Director of the Michigan Commission for the Blind, is also the State of Michigan ADA Coordinator. Moreover, he served on the United States Access Board not only as Chair in the late 1990’s, but also on the Courthouse Access Committee.

 

But, then what are we to expect for facilities and programs under his charge are not fully accessible either in accordance with the ADA and 504.

 

Sincerely,

 

Joe Harcz

 

 

Wayne County Circuit Court upgrades will give residents access to justice -- finally | freep.com | Detroit Free Press

Wayne County Circuit Court upgrades will give residents access to justice -- finally

 

By VIRGIL C. SMITH

Wayne County Circuit Court, one of the 15 busiest trial courts in the nation, processes more than 100,000 cases annually. For the past two years, Wayne

County's leadership failed to appropriate sufficient funds necessary to allow the citizens of Wayne County access to justice in the circuit court.

 

This failure has contributed to impossible staff work loads, deteriorating buildings and antiquated, inefficient technical equipment.

 

Images of the Wayne County court crisis include:

 

• More than a hundred boxes, each containing hundreds of unfiled court documents due to a shortage of modern imaging technology.

 

• Scores of boxes of unopened responses to juror questionnaires.

 

• Friend of the Court staffers trying to process 289,000 open cases -- 1,229 per staff member, nearly 300% more than any other county.

 

• Tens of thousands of outstanding bench warrants for child support.

 

• A computer system so antiquated that it is not possible for different divisions of the court to share case records.

 

• A building with only one functioning public women's room to accommodate more than 1,000 visitors daily.

 

• Another building where there is periodic flooding into overcrowded jury assembly rooms and courtrooms.

 

• A building that has only two very small elevators to handle hundreds of daily visitors.

 

These, among other unsatisfactory conditions, led to a recent court decision that determined Wayne County had enacted an unconstitutionally inadequate budget

for the circuit court's operations. It was also determined that inadequate administrative, court clerk and security staff did not allow the circuit court

to perform its constitutionally mandated duties.

 

Further, in the words of the trial court's opinion, the county had allowed the court buildings to deteriorate to "such pathetic condition that they are

not fit for man nor beast." The trial court concluded that under these conditions, the county had denied its citizens access to justice. But, at the same

time, the county had supplied its executive and its administrative staffs with "palatial" offices in the Guardian Building.

 

The county now must implement the trial court's order to provide sufficient appropriations for the court to hire adequate staff, release existing bond money

so the circuit court can implement a unified computer system, and fix the dilapidated conditions of three of the four buildings in which the circuit court's

operations are housed. These buildings must also be made compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Finally, the county must provide the money

for new technology.

 

The state Court of Appeals recently denied a motion filed by the county to stay the order. Therefore, the county should implement the trial judge's order

with all due deliberate speed. Only in this way will the circuit court receive the means to provide the citizens of Wayne County with true access to justice.

 

Virgil C. Smith is chief judge of the Third Circuit Court in Wayne County.

 

http://www.freep.com/article/20101229/OPINION05/12290323/1322/Wayne-County-Circuit-Court-upgrades-will-give-residents-access-to-justice----finally



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