DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE COMPLAINT NUMBER 204-72-20
- This matter was initiated by a complaint filed under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. ï½§ï½§ 12131-12134, with the United States Department of Justice (the Department) against the Shelby County, Tennessee Court of General Sessions (Court). The complaint alleges that in a small claims proceeding involving a defendant who is deaf and needed real-time transcription services to communicate effectively with the Court, the Court did not provide the real-time transcription service until complainant had appeared on three different dates to litigate the matter. Complainant also alleges that although real-time transcription was offered at the third hearing, the service was inadequate.
- The 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 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. 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.
- The parties to this Agreement are the United States of America and the Shelby County, Tennessee Court of General Sessions. In order to secure compliance by voluntary means, the parties hereby agree as follows:
- The Court does not admit by the signing of this Agreement that its current policies and practices are in violation in any respect with the ADA or its implementing regulation.
- The ADA applies to the Court because it is a public entity as defined in title II of the ADA and the title II regulation. 42 U.S.C. ï½§ 12131 and 28 C.F.R. ï½§ 35.104
- Federal ADA regulations require a public entity to provide effective communication to persons with disabilities, and to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services where necessary to afford a person with a disability an equal opportunity to participate in, and enjoy the benefits of, a service, program, or activity conducted by a public entity. 28 C.F.R.ï½§ 35.160. Such auxiliary aids include, but are not limited to, sign language interpreters, real time translation, and other aids and services.
- The subject of this Settlement Agreement is the development of a policy to ensure that communications with a participant, including party, witness, juror, or spectator, who is deaf or hard of hearing, are as effective as communications with others.
- The Court has developed a written policy (attached), to provide that in those proceedings where an interpreter or an auxiliary aid such as real-time transcription is required to ensure effective communications with any individual who is deaf or hard of hearing, the Court will, upon reasonable notice, secure the services of a qualified interpreter(s), or provide the proper auxiliary aid.
- Beginning on the effective date of this Agreement, the Court will instruct all appropriate Court officials responsible for conducting proceedings to comply with the provisions of this Agreement. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.
- Copies of the policy will be provided to members of the public upon request.
- 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 Court will provide a copy of this Agreement to any person upon request.
- The Department of Justice may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If it determines that this Agreement or any requirement thereof has been violated, it may institute a civil action seeking specific performance of the provisions of this Agreement in an appropriate Federal court.
- 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 will not be construed as a waiver of the Department's right to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.
- 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. This Agreement is limited to the facts set forth in the first paragraph, and it 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 Court to comply with all aspects of the ADA.
For Shelby County, Tennessee:
Court of General Sessions:
______________________________ Date: _______________
THOMAS R. STONE, Americans
With Disabilities Act Coordinator,
Shelby County Government, Suite 901
160 North Main Street
Memphis, TN 38138
For the United States:
BILL LANN LEE,
Acting Assistant Attorney General
______________________________ Date: _______________
JOHN WODATCH, Chief
RENEE WOHLENHAUS, Deputy Chief
U.S. Department of Justice
Disability Rights Section
P.O. Box 66738
Washington, D.C. 20035-6738
POLICY ON INTERPRETATIVE SERVICES AND AUXILIARY AIDS: JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS INVOLVING HEARING IMPAIRED PERSONS