- This matter was initiated by a complaint, received July 5, 1995, filed with the United States Department of Justice (the Department), against the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, Pennsylvania (the Court). The complaint was investigated by the Department under the authority granted by section 308(b) of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. ï½§ï½§ 12131-12134. The complainant alleges that he was not allowed to serve as a jury member after he disclosed his need for an accommodation related to his disability.
- The Court denies that it acted unlawfully with respect to the complainant.
- The parties have agreed to settle this matter without resolving the factual and legal dispute regarding the lawfulness of the Court's actions. 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 and to determine if the Court is in compliance with title II of the ADA and the Justice Department's implementing regulation, issue findings, and, where appropriate, negotiate and secure voluntary compliance agreements.
- The parties to this Settlement Agreement (Agreement) are the United States of America and the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, Pennsylvania.
- This Agreement does not constitute an admission of liability and/or fault on the part of the Court. The parties enter into this Agreement in order to avoid litigation and hereby agree as follows:
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 of Justice 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 a civil suit in this matter.
- Title II of the ADA and its implementing regulation prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability by public entities. 42 U.S.C. ï½§ 12131 ; 28 C.F.R. ï½§ 35.101. Title II requires a public entity to make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, and procedures when necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability, unless doing so would fundamentally alter the nature of the program, service or activity. 28 C.F.R. ï½§35.130(b)(7).
- The ADA applies to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas because it is a public entity as defined in the Department of Justice's regulation implementing title II. 28 C.F.R. ï½§ 35.104.
- In order to ensure that individuals with disabilities are not denied the opportunity to serve on juries because of their disabilities, the Court agrees to take the following actions within 30 days of the date of this Agreement:
- The Court shall designate an employee to coordinate its efforts to comply with its responsibilities under this agreement. The Court shall publish and make available to interested parties the name, office address, and telephone number of the designated coordinator.
- The Court shall develop and post in a prominent location of its public areas a written policy statement indicating procedures available for prospective jurors with disabilities to obtain reasonable modifications to Court policies, practices, and procedures.
- By April 1998, the Court shall include the policy referenced in paragraph b and the contact information referenced in paragraph a, above, in all mailings of its Summons to Report to Jury Service.
- The Court shall adopt and publish a procedure providing for a confidential interview/inquiry of all prospective jurors prior to selection for a jury panel, to determine if the juror anticipates a need for an accommodation should they be selected to serve on a panel.
- The Court will evaluate the requested accommodation, and if it is reasonable and available, make provisions for the accommodation in the event the potential juror is chosen to serve. The trial judge and the potential juror shall be notified of the availability of the accommodation prior to voir dire.
- If the requested accommodation is reasonable, but not immediately available, the Court will inform the prospective juror and reschedule the juror's service for another day when the accommodation can be arranged.
- The Department may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the Department believes that this Agreement or any provision thereof has been violated, it may institute a civil action in Federal district court. 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 civil action seeking specific performance of the provisions of this Agreement in an appropriate Federal court.
- This Agreement is a public document. A copy of this Agreement or any information contained herein may be made available to any person. The Department shall provide a copy of this Agreement to any person upon request.
- This Agreement shall become effective as of the date of the last signature below.
- 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 is limited to the facts as set forth in paragraphs 1 through 3, and it does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or any other Federal, State or local law.
For the United States:
Isabelle Katz Pinzler
Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights
By:_____________________________ Date: ____________
John L. Wodatch, Chief
Allison Nichol, Deputy Chief
Ron Whisonant, Investigator
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 66738
Washington, D.C. 20035-6738
For the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, Pennsylvania:
By: ____________________________ Date: ______________
Michael J. McAllister, Jury Commissioner