Department Of Justice Complaint Number 204-38-67

SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT BETWEEN
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
AND
63RD DISTRICT COURT PROBATION DEPARTMENT,
KENT COUNTY, MICHIGAN

Background

  1. This matter was initiated by a complaint filed under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. ァァ 12131-12134 (the ADA), with the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, (Department) against the 63rd District Court Probation Department, in Kent County, Michigan (District Court). The complainant alleges that the District Court has violated title II of the ADA and the Department of Justice's implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 35, by failing to provide a qualified sign language interpreter. Pursuant to the provision of the ADA entitled "Alternative Means of Dispute Resolution," 42 U.S.C. 12212, the parties have entered into this Agreement.
  2. The Department of Justice is authorized under 28 C.F.R. Part 35, Subpart F, to investigate fully the allegations of the complaint in this matter to determine the compliance of the District Court with title II of the ADA and the Department's implementing title II regulation, issue findings, and, where appropriate, negotiate and secure voluntary compliance agreements. Furthermore, the Attorney General is authorized under 42 U.S.C. ァ 12133 to bring a civil action enforcing title II of the ADA should the Department of Justice fail to secure voluntary compliance pursuant to Subpart F. In consideration of the terms of this Agreement, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from undertaking further investigation or from filing civil suit in this matter.
  3. The parties to this Agreement are the United States of America and the District Court. In order to avoid the burdens and expenses of an investigation and possible litigation, the parties hereby agree as follows:

Jurisdiction

  1. The ADA applies to the District Court because it is a public entity as defined in the Department of Justice's regulation implementing title II. 28 C.F.R. ァ 35.104.
  2. The District Court is responsible for the operation of the 63rd District Court Probation Department, located in the County of Kent, Michigan.
  3. Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities on the basis of disability, in the services, programs, or activities of a public entity such as the District Court.
  4. Under the ADA, the services, programs, and activities provided by the 63rd District Court Probation Department, when viewed in their entirety, must be accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities.

Remedial Action

  1. The District Court will, within 30 days of the effective date of this agreement, develop a written policy, equivalent to the policy attached hereto, to provide that, in those proceedings of the 63rd District Court Probation Department where an interpreter is required to ensure effective communication with an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing, the District Court will, upon reasonable notice, secure the services of a qualified interpreter. Copies of the policy will be provided to members of the public upon request.
  2. In order to ensure effective communication with any participant who is deaf or hard of hearing in the services, programs, or activities of the 63rd District Court Probation Department, the District Court agrees:
    1. to provide, at the District Court's expense, appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including qualified interpreters, when necessary to ensure effective communication with the individual with a disability;
    2. to give primary consideration to the request of the individual with a disability when determining what type of auxiliary aid or service is appropriate; and
    3. to notify individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing about the availability of auxiliary aids and services to ensure effective communication. The District Court will disseminate this information through pamphlets, posters, or other appropriate means.

Implementation and Enforcement of the Agreement

  1. This Agreement is a public document. A copy of this document or any information contained in it may be made available to any person by the District Court or the Department upon request. The District Court shall provide a copy of this Agreement to any person upon request.
  2. The Department of Justice may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the Department of Justice believes that this Agreement or any requirement thereof has been violated, it may institute a civil action in Federal district court following written notice to the 63rd District Court of the possible violation and a period of ten (10) days in which the District Court has the opportunity to cure the alleged violation.
  3. Failure by the Department of Justice to enforce this entire Agreement or any provision thereof with respect to any deadline or any other provision herein shall not be construed as a waiver of the Department of Justice's right to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.
  4. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.
  5. This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties on the matters raised herein, and no other statement, promise, or agreement, either written or oral, made by either party or agents of either party, that is not contained in this written Agreement, will be enforceable under its provisions.
  6. This Agreement is limited to the facts set forth herein and does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act or any other Federal law. This Agreement does not affect the District Court's continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of title II of the ADA.
  7. The signer of this document for the District Court represents that he or she is authorized to bind the District Court to this Agreement.

For the 63rd District Court
Probation Department:

__________________________________      Date:___________

For the United States:

Isabelle Katz Pinzler
Acting Assistant Attorney General
for Civil Rights

By:__________________________________      Date___________
   John L. Wodatch
   Allison Nichol
   Naomi Milton
   Disability Rights Section
   Civil Rights Division
   U.S. Department of Justice
   P.O. Box 66738
   Washington, D.C. 20035-6738
   (202) 514-9807

Attachment

POLICY ON INTERPRETING SERVICES IN PROBATION DEPARTMENT PROCEEDINGS INVOLVING INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE DEAF OR HARD OR HEARING

It is the policy of the 63rd District Court that in those proceedings of the 63rd District Court Probation Department where an interpreter is required to ensure effective communication with any applicant, participant, or member of the public who is deaf or hard or hearing, the District Court will, upon reasonable notice, secure the services of a qualified interpreter. The term "qualified interpreter" means an interpreter who is able to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially both receptively and expressively, using any necessary specialized vocabulary.

Before determining the type of interpreting services to be secured, the 63rd District Court Probation Department or its designated representative will confer with an individual with a disability regarding his or her mode of communication (e.g., American Sign Language, Signed English, or oral interpreting). The 63rd District Court Probation Department or its designee will then determine the type of the services and the date, time, and place where such services will be required. The 63rd District Court Probation Department will then secure an interpreter who is capable of providing these services and negotiate payment terms from appropriate budgeted funds.

Upon the date, place, and time determined, and prior to continuing with any proceeding, the 63rd District Court Probation Department or designee will inquire of the individual, through the interpreter, whether the individual is confident that the interpreter's skills will ensure an adequate and accurate interpretation of the proceedings. If this question is answered in the negative, the proceedings will be suspended until a qualified interpreter, or other method of effective communication, is obtained.

The District Court will cause these procedures to be distributed to all staff of the 63rd District Court Probation Department. Notice of the 63rd District Court Probation Department's commitment to comply with the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act is to be provided to all applicants and participants of the 63rd District Court Probation Department. This notice is to be provided as soon as practicable and will name a centralized office of the District Court that will be responsible for this policy and that may be contacted via traditional telephone and TTY.

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Updated August 6, 2015

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