Settlement Agreement Between The United States Of America And The County Of Essex, New Jersey

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE NUMBER 204-48-78

BACKGROUND

  1. This matter was initiated by a complaint filed under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. ァァ12131-12134, with the United States Department of Justice ("Department"), against the County of Essex, New Jersey ("County"). The complainant alleges that the County has violated title II of the ADA and the Department of Justice's implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 35, because the County Courthouse facility, which includes the Old Courthouse building, the New Courthouse building and the Hall of Records building, is not accessible to individuals with mobility impairments. The complainant also alleges that the County failed to conduct a self-evaluation and failed to develop a transition plan according to the requirements of the ADA.
  2. The parties to this Settlement Agreement ("Agreement") are the United States of America and the County of Essex, New Jersey.
  3. 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 whether the County complied with title II of the ADA and the Justice Department's implementing 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.
  4. The County of Essex, New Jersey, is a public entity as defined in the Department of Justice's regulation implementing title II. 28 C.F.R. ァ 35.104.
  5. The subject of this Agreement is to ensure that individuals with disabilities are able to enjoy equal participation in the benefits of the services, programs, and activities located at the Courthouse facility.

REMEDIAL ACTION

  1. In consideration of the terms of this Agreement as set forth below, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from undertaking further investigation or from filing civil suit in this matter regarding areas covered in paragraphs 8-18, except as provided in paragraphs 20-22.
  2. The Parties agree that the technical requirements and, where appropriate, the scoping requirements of the ADA Standards for Accessible Design ("Standards") are used as a guide for determining whether a program or activity held in an existing facility is "readily accessible to and usable by" persons with disabilities, and for determining what changes are necessary to make this program or activity accessible if it continues to be provided in the existing facility in question. See 28 C.F.R. ァァ 35.150(b)(1), 35.151. The Standards appear at 28 C.F.R. Part 36, Appendix A.

A.      POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

  1. The County agrees that within 30 days of the effective date of this Agreement the County will ensure that the Sheriff's Department will adopt and implement formal procedures to have available upon request multiple sets of universal lift keys at each public entrance of the Hall of Records and New Courts Building, and at the lobby information desk of each building to provide independent operation of the platform lifts which connect the Hall of Records and New Courts Building.
  2. The County agrees that within 30 days of the effective date of this Agreement the County will ensure that the Department of Corrections will adopt and implement formal procedures to allow individuals with mobility impairments who are visiting inmates housed at the County Detention Center to utilize an alternate accessible visitation room located in the building.
  3. The County agrees that within 180 days of the effective date of this Agreement the County will make an informational publication available in alternate formats indicating the following: the location of each courtroom in the each building equipped with assistive listening devices for individuals with hearing impairments, the location of each courtroom in the each building equipped with visual aid devices for individuals with visual impairments, and the location of each courtroom in each building that is designated as accessible to individuals with mobility impairments.

B.      EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION

  1. The County agrees that within 180 days of the effective date of this Agreement all letters sent to the public from County Courthouse offices will have the County Courthouse TDD/TTY telephone number printed on the letterhead and/or provide the telephone number for New Jersey Relay.

C.      STRUCTURAL MODIFICATIONS

In order to ensure that each of the programs, services, and activities operating at the County Courthouse, when viewed in its entirety, is readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, the County will complete the following actions within one (1) year of the effective date of this Agreement except for the Old Courts building and Courthouse parking garage, which are currently undergoing renovations.

  1. Parking.
    1. North Parking Area. There are not an adequate number of accessible parking spaces provided. Provide the required minimum number of accessible parking spaces served by a 60 inch wide access aisle and a 96 inch wide access aisle for accessible spaces designated "van-accessible" parking spaces. In addition, install a sign for each space using the International Symbol of Accessibility in a location that cannot be obscured by a vehicle parked in the space. Each van-accessible parking space shall have an additional sign designating the space as "van-accessible" mounted below the International Symbol of Accessibility. Standards ァァ 4.1.2(5), 4.6, 4.30.7.
    2. Parking Garage Area. There are not an adequate number of accessible parking spaces provided. Provide the required minimum number of accessible parking spaces served by a 60 inch wide access aisle and a 96 inch wide access aisle for accessible spaces designated "van-accessible" parking spaces. In addition, install a sign for each space using the International Symbol of Accessibility in a location that cannot be obscured by a vehicle parked in the space. Each van-accessible parking space shall have an additional sign designating the space as "van-accessible" mounted below the International Symbol of Accessibility. Standards ァァ 4.1.2(5), 4.6, 4.30.7.
    3. South Parking Area. There are no signs designating the parking spaces as accessible. Install signs for each accessible space using the International Symbol of Accessibility in a location that cannot be obscured by a vehicle parked in the space. Each van-accessible parking space shall be served by a sign designating the space as "van-accessible" mounted below the International Symbol of Accessibility. Standards ァァ 4.1.2(5)(b), 4.6.4, 4.30.7.
  2. Signage.
    1. Informational Signage on Auxiliary Aids and Services. Install signage at the main floor entrance lobby of each of the New Courts Building, Old Courts Building and Hall of Records indicating the location of each courtroom in each building equipped with assistive listening devices for individuals with hearing impairments, the location of each courtroom in each building equipped with visual aid devices for individuals with visual impairments, and the location of each courtroom in each building that is designated as accessible to individuals with mobility impairments. Standards ァァ 4.30.1, 4.30.7.
    2. TDD/TTY Locations. In the New Courts Building, Old Courts Building and Hall of Records, there is insufficient signage indicating the location of TDD/TTY's. Install signage in each building lobby and at the public telephones informing individuals of the location of TDD/TTY's throughout the building. Standards ァァ 4.30.1, 4.30.7.
    3. Detention Center Visitation Rooms. The visitation rooms for the public to visit an inmate housed in the facility are inaccessible. Install signage in the visitors room lobby advising the public that alternate arrangements for visitors with mobility impairments will be arranged by the Department of Corrections. Standards ァァ 4.30.1, 4.30.7.
    4. Platform Lifts Connecting the New Courts Building and Hall of Records. Use of the platform lifts by individuals with mobility impairments has been facilitated by assisted operation. Install signage at each public entrance of the New Courts Building and the Hall of Records, and at the lobby directory of each building, informing the public that universal lifts keys are available upon request for independent operation of the lifts which connect the Hall of Records and New Courts Building in compliance with the Standards. Standards ァァ 4.1.3(4), 4.1.6(3)(g), 4.11.2, 4.11.3.
  3. Elevators.
    1. New Courts Building Elevators. The elevators do not have the required signage. Install signage, using raised and Brailled characters, on both jambs of each elevator hoistway on each floor. The centerline of the characters shall be 60 inches above the finish floor, and there shall be no protruding objects within 3 inches of the signage. Standards ァァ 4.1.3(5), 4.1.6(1)(b), 4.10.5, 4.30.1, 4.30.4, 4.30.5, 4.30.6.
  4. Routes of Travel.
    1. New Courts Building. There is an abrupt change in level at the entrance to each jury and witness box in the courtrooms. Alter the public area in the designated accessible courtroom so that either the transition is flush and free of abrupt changes and beveled with a slope no greater than 1:2, provide a compliant ramp, or provide adequate clear floor space for a wheelchair adjacent to the seating provided in the jury and witness boxes. Standards ァァ 4.1.3(1), 4.1.6(1)(b), 4.5.2, 4.33.
    2. Old Courts Building. There is an abrupt change in level at the entrance to each jury and witness box in the courtrooms. Alter the public area in the three designated accessible courtrooms so that either the transition is flush and free of abrupt changes and beveled with a slope no greater than 1:2; or provide a compliant ramp; or provide adequate clear floor space for a wheelchair adjacent to the seating provided in the jury and witness boxes. Standards ァァ 4.1.3(1), 4.1.6(1)(b), 4.5.2, 4.33.
    3. Hall of Records Building. There is an abrupt change in level at the entrance to each jury and witness box in each courtroom. Alter the public area in the designated accessible courtroom so that either: the transition is flush and free of abrupt changes and beveled with a slope no greater than 1:2; or provide a compliant ramp; or provide adequate clear floor space for a wheelchair adjacent to the seating provided in the jury and witness boxes. Standards ァァ 4.1.3(1), 4.1.6(1)(b), 4.5.2, 4.33.
  5. Public Telephones.
    1. Hall of Records Building Public Telephone Booths. The public telephones located within telephone booths are not accessible. Install signage at each inaccessible telephone booth directing individuals to the accessible public telephone without a booth on that floor. Standards ァァ 4.1.3(16), 4.1.6(1)(b), 4.30.
    2. Hall of Records Building Public Telephones. The public telephones in the building do not comply with the Standards. Provide public telephones that have hearing aid compatibility, volume control, and signage, with the highest operable part not more than 54 inches above the finish floor. Standards ァァ 4.1.6(1)(b), 4.1.3(17), 4.2.5, 4.2.6, 4.31.
    3. New Courts Building Public Telephones. The public telephones in the building do not comply with the Standards. Provide public telephones that have hearing aid compatibility, volume control, and signage, with the highest operable part not more than 54 inches above the finish floor. Standards ァァ 4.1.6(1)(b), 4.1.3(17), 4.2.5, 4.2.6, 4.31.
  6. Doors.
    1. New Courts Building Interior Doors.
      1. The interior doors throughout the building have knob handles. Replace the handles on designated interior accessible doors used regularly by the public with hardware that does not require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist to operate. Standards ァァ 4.1.3(7)(b), 4.1.6(1)(b), 4.13.9.
      2. The force required to open each interior door must be no greater than 5 pounds. Check, adjust or replace the door closers so that the force required to open all of the above designated interior doors, where practicable, is not more than 5 pounds. Standards ァァ 4.1.3(7)(a), 4.1.6(1)(b), 4.13.11(2)(b), 4.22.2.
    2. Hall of Records Building Interior Doors.
      1. The interior doors throughout the building have knob handles. Replace the handles on designated interior accessible doors used regularly by the public with hardware that does not require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist to operate. Standards ァァ 4.1.3(7)(b), 4.1.6(1)(b), 4.13.9
      2. .
      3. The force required to open each interior door must be no greater than 5 pounds. Check, adjust or replace the door closers so that the force required to open all of the above designated interior doors, where practicable, is not more than 5 pounds. Standards ァァ 4.1.3(7)(a), 4.1.6(1)(b), 4.13.11(2)(b), 4.22.2.
  7. Courtroom Seating.
    1. New Courts Building. There are no designated accessible seating areas provided. Provide a designated accessible seating area in each courtroom for individuals who use wheelchairs, and install signage designating the accessible seating areas in each courtroom. Standards ァァ 4.1.3(19)(a), 4.1.6(1)(b), 4.30.7.
    2. Old Courts Building. There are no designated accessible seating areas provided. Provide a designated accessible seating area in each courtroom for individuals who use wheelchairs, and install signage designating the accessible seating areas in each courtroom. Standards ァァ 4.1.3(19)(a), 4.1.6(1)(b), 4.30.7.
    3. Hall of Records Building
    4. . There are no designated accessible seating areas provided. Provide a designated accessible seating area in each courtroom for individuals who use wheelchairs, and install signage designating the accessible seating areas in each courtroom. Standards ァァ 4.1.3(19)(a), 4.1.6(1)(b), 4.30.7.

  8. Toilet Rooms.
    1. New Courts Building Toilet Rooms. The accessible toilet rooms do not have the required signage. Install signage, using raised and Brailled characters and letters, on the wall adjacent to the latch side of each door so that the centerline of each sign is 60 inches above the finish floor and there are no protruding objects within 3 inches of the signage. Standards ァァ 4.1.3(16)(a), 4.30.1, 4.30.4, 4.30.5, 4.30.6, 4.30.7.
    2. Old Courts Building Toilet Rooms. The accessible toilet rooms do not have the required signage. Install signage, using raised and Brailled characters and letters, on the wall adjacent to the latch side of each door so that the centerline of each sign is 60 inches above the finish floor and there are no protruding objects within 3 inches of the signage. Standards ァァ 4.1.3(16)(a), 4.30.1, 4.30.4, 4.30.5, 4.30.6, 4.30.7.
    3. Hall of Records Building Toilet Rooms. The toilet rooms do not have the required signage. Install signage, using raised and Brailled characters and letters, on the wall adjacent to the latch side of each door so that the centerline of each sign is 60 inches above the finish floor and there are no protruding objects within 3 inches of the signage. Standards ァァ 4.1.3(16)(a), 4.30.1, 4.30.4, 4.30.5, 4.30.6, 4.30.7.
    4. Hall of Records Building Deliberation Room Unisex Toilet Rooms. There is no signage at the inaccessible deliberation room unisex toilet rooms directing persons with disabilities to the nearest accessible toilet room. Install a sign at each inaccessible toilet room directing persons with disabilities to the nearest accessible toilet rooms. Standards ァァ 4.1.3(16)(a), 4.30.1, 4.30.4, 4.30.5, 4.30.6.
    5. Detention Center Visitors Lobby Toilet Rooms. There is no signage at the inaccessible detention center visitors lobby toilet rooms directing persons with disabilities to the nearest accessible toilet room. Install a sign at each inaccessible toilet room directing persons with disabilities to the nearest accessible toilet rooms. Standards ァァ 4.1.3(16)(a), 4.30.1, 4.30.4, 4.30.5, 4.30.6.

IMPLEMENTATION AND ENFORCEMENT

  1. Except as otherwise specified in this Agreement, at one year after the effective date of this Agreement, and thereafter at yearly anniversaries of the effective date, the County will submit written reports to the Department summarizing the actions the County has taken pursuant to this Agreement. Reports will include photographs, architectural plans, notices published in the newspapers, copies of adopted policies, and proof of efforts to secure funding/assistance for structural renovations.
  2. The Department may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the Department believes that this Agreement or any portion of it has been violated, it will so notify the County in writing and it will attempt to resolve the issue or issues in good faith. If the Department is unable to reach a satisfactory resolution of the issue or issues raised within 60 days of the date it provides notice to the County, it may institute a civil action in federal district court directly to enforce Title II or to enforce the terms of this Agreement, or it may initiate appropriate steps to enforce the Rehabilitation Act.
  3. Failure by the Department to enforce this entire Agreement or any provision thereof with regard to any deadline or any other provision herein shall not be construed as a waiver of the Department's right to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.
  4. In the event that the County fails to comply in a timely manner with any requirement of this Agreement without obtaining sufficient advance written agreement from the Department as a temporary modification of the relevant terms of this Agreement, the Department may file suit in an appropriate federal court to enforce the terms of the Agreement, may declare the Agreement null and void and file suit to enforce Title II of the ADA, or may commence proceedings to suspend or terminate its financial assistance to the County.
  5. 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 County or the Department upon request.
  6. 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, shall be enforceable. This Agreement does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or any other Federal law. This Agreement does not affect the County's continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of the ADA.
  7. This Agreement will remain in effect for two years from the effective date of this Agreement, or until the parties agree that full compliance with this Agreement by the County has been achieved, whichever comes later.
  8. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.
  9. The person signing for the County of Essex, New Jersey, represents that he is authorized to bind the County to this Agreement.

The County of Essex, New Jersey:

BY:_____________________________________      Date:_11/27/02_
   County Executive, James W. Treffinger
   The County of Essex
   Hall of Records
   Newark, New Jersey 07102

FOR THE UNITED STATES:

RALPH F. BOYD, JR.
Assistant Attorney General
for Civil Rights

BY:_____________________________________      Date:_12/09/02_
   JOHN L. WODATCH, Chief
   SUSAN B. REILLY, Deputy Chief
   NAOMI MILTON, Supervisory Attorney
   Disability Rights Section
   Civil Rights Division
   U.S. Department of Justice
   P.O. Box 66738
   Washington, D.C. 20035-6738
   (202) 307-0663

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Updated August 6, 2015

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