DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE COMPLAINT NUMBER 204-41-69
- This matter was initiated by a complaint under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. ï½§ï½§ 12131-12134, with the U. S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Mississippi against the Gulfport Municipal Court. The complainant is deaf and uses sign language for communication. The complainant alleges that on two separate occasions the Court refused to secure the services of a qualified interpreter to ensure effective communication with him in the Municipal Court of Gulfport, Mississippi.
- The Department of Justice ("Department") is authorized under 28 C.F.R. Part 35, Subpart F, to investigate the allegations of the complaint in this matter, to determine the compliance of the Gulfport Municipal Court with Title II of the ADA and the 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. ï½§ 12133 to bring a civil action enforcing Title II of the ADA should the Department fail to secure voluntary compliance pursuant to subpart F.
- The parties to this Agreement are the United States of America and Gulfport Municipal Court. In consideration of the terms of this Agreement as set forth below, the U. S. Attorney's Office agrees to refrain from undertaking further investigation or from filing a civil suit in this matter.
- The Municipal Court does not admit by the signing of this Agreement that its current policies and practices are in violation in any respect of the ADA or its implementing regulation.
- The ADA applies to the Municipal Court because it is a public entity as defined in 42 U.S.C. ï½§ 12131 and the Department of Justice's regulation implementing Title II, 28 C.F.R. ï½§ 35.104.
- The purpose of the Settlement Agreement is to ensure that persons who are deaf or hard of hearing have an equal opportunity to benefit from the programs and services of the Municipal Court. Under the ADA, the services, programs, and activities provided by the Municipal Court, when viewed in their entirety, must be accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities.
- In order to ensure effective communication with any participant who is deaf or hard of hearing in the services, programs, or activities of the Court, the Court agrees to:
- provide, at the Court's expense, appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including qualified interpreters, when necessary to ensure effective communication with the individual with a disability;
- give primary consideration to the request of the individual with a disability when determining what type of auxiliary aid or service is appropriate; and
- notify individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing about the availability of auxiliary aids and services to ensure effective communication. The Court will disseminate this information through pamphlets, posters, or other appropriate means;
- maintain a contract with an interpreter service in order to provide interpreting services on a one hour notice.
- The Municipal Court has established, and will continue to maintain, a written policy (attached), which requires that the Court ensure that persons who are deaf or hard of hearing have an equal opportunity to benefit from the programs and services of the Court, including, but not limited to, participating as parties, legal representatives, witnesses, spectators and jurors.
- Within thirty (30) days of the effective date of this Agreement, the Court will conduct a training seminar for all personnel to address the practical application of the ADA and the specific provisions of this Agreement. The training will be provided to each new employee as hired.
- Failure by the U. S. Attorney's Office to enforce this entire Agreement or any provision thereof with respect to any deadline or any other provision herein will not be construed as a waiver of its right to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.
- This Agreement is a public document. A copy of this document or any information contained in it may be made available to any person. The Municipal Court will provide a copy of this Agreement to any person upon request.
- This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties on the matters raised herein. 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.
- 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 continuing responsibility of the Municipal Court, to comply with all aspects of the ADA.
- In the event that the Municipal Court fails to comply in a timely fashion with any requirement of this agreement without obtaining sufficient advance written agreement with the Department as to a temporary modification of the relevant terms of the agreement, all terms of this agreement shall become enforceable in United States District Court, and such failure shall be considered a subsequent violation within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. ï½§ 12188(b)(2)(C)(ii).
- If the Court fails to take any actions described in this Agreement, without prior written approval of the Department of Justice, it shall be liable to the Department for a civil penalty of no less than $5,000 for each required action not taken. In addition, the Court shall be liable for any appropriate compensatory damages caused by the failure to comply.
- The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.
For Gulfport Municipal Court:
JUDY A. PACE
Assistant City Attorney
For the United States:
United States Attorney
Assistant U. S. Attorney
Southern District of Mississippi
GULFPORT MUNICIPAL COURT
POLICY ON THE PROVISION OF INTERPRETING SERVICES
It shall be the policy of Gulfport Municipal Court to provide persons who are deaf or hard of hearing with effective communication in all programs and services of the courts, including, but not limited to, participating as parties, legal representatives, witnesses, spectators and jurors. When the court has received notice that the provision of interpreting services is required to ensure effective participation by an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing, the court will secure, at its expense, the services of a qualified interpreter(s).>