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Showing posts with label INVESTIGATIONS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label INVESTIGATIONS. Show all posts

Monday, February 9, 2015


Elizabeth A. Richter

On December 24, 2012,  I wrote a letter to Attorney John B. Hughes of the Civil Division of the Connecticut Department of Justice informing him of the fact that the Connecticut Judicial Branch does not comply with Federal ADA Law and also the Federal ADA Amendments Act of 2008.  I asked the CT DOJ to intervene in this situation and do something about it on behalf of the citizens in the State of Connecticut who have disabilities and need to obtain access to the legal system in order to obtain justice.
I stated that the Connecticut Judicial Branch is not compliant in the following areas:
1.  The CT Judicial Branch only offers reasonable accommodations not the more extensive reasonable modifications which it is required to provide under Title II of Federal ADA Law;
2.  The CT Judicial Branch has failed to appoint a Designated Responsible Employee to coordinate its efforts to comply with and carry out the Judicial Branch's responsibilities under Title II of the ADA, as required by 28 C.R.F. Sec. 35.107 (a);
3.  The CT Judicial Branch has failed to provide a meaningful grievance procedure for resolving complaints of violations of the ADA as required by Title II, 28 C.F.R. Sec. 35.107 (b);
4.  The CT Judicial Branch has not conducted a self-evaluation which is required under Title II of the ADA according to Federal ADA law under 28 C.F.R., Part 35, Sec. 35.105, or if it has one, it has repeatedly refused to provide one to the people who have inquired and requested a copy;
5. The CT Judicial Branch is unfairly limiting reasonable accommodations to those with visible disabilities and denying them to litigants with invisible disabilities in violation of the law.
I made these complaints based on my work as an advocate for people with disabilities where I saw that people were being denied their reasonable modifications and thus prevented from obtaining access to legal proceedings they wished to participate in.
In addition, I had my own personal experience of discrimination in the CT Family Court system under the "perceived as" category of Federal ADA law because I was being falsely accused of having a mental illness I did not have.  As I explained to Attorney John Hughes, 30 years prior to filing my divorce in 2006 I experienced an incident in which I was misdiagnosed with a severe mental illness I do not have and hospitalized for two years.  Follow up psychiatric testing confirmed that the original diagnosis was a mistake. 

However, during the course of my divorce, I faced constant discrimination based upon that old diagnosis.  In particular, I cited the fact that opposing counsel in my divorce case terrorized me with three motions to have me declared incompetent.  Not only that, because of this misperception, I was denied access to the services of the trial court such as family relations, mediation, special masters, or any meaningful participation in pre-trial hearings. 
I was also denied the reasonable modifications I required based upon a disability I actually did have--anxiety disorder--in order to participate in the legal proceedings in CT Family Court.  Thus, in 2009 and subsequently, when I ended up having to represent myself, I filed requests for reasonable accommodations--the court makes no reference in their forms to reasonable modifications, the more extensive category they are actually supposed to provide under Title II of the ADA. 

Nonetheless, despite my repeated requests, the judges ignored my requests, and the ADA contact person--not Designated Responsible Employee as required under federal ADA law--denied me the right to the assistance I needed in order obtain access to the legal proceedings taking place in my case.  I then appealed my case to the ADA Grievance Committee where the Committee denied my appeal and also did not comply with their own grievance procedures in drawing their conclusion.  Despite all these denials, eventually, in 2012, a Judge of the Superior Court granted me reasonable accommodations and acknowledged that I have a disability.  In doing so, he used the same information I'd been using all along since 2009. 

The bottom line is that from 2006 when I first filed for divorce up until 2012 when that judge signed my request for accommodations, I was denied any accommodations I needed to access the legal proceedings in my case. 
I didn't hear anything back in response to my letter to Attorney John Hughes.  He didn't acknowledge that he had received my letter or in any way indicate that he had any intention of doing anything about the civil rights and ADA rights violations I had brought to his attention.  At the very least, this was simply rude and disrespectful of a citizen of the State of Connecticut, a taxpayer who is currently funding his salary. 
Six months later, on June 10, 2013, I wrote another letter to Attorney John Hughes' boss, Attorney Deirdre M. Daly.  This time I hand delivered the letter.  The prior letter to Attorney John Hughes was sent registered mail, return receipt requested.  I decided this letter was going straight from my hand to that of Attorney Daly.  I also attached to this letter to Attorney Deirdre Daly a copy of the exact same letter which I had written to Attorney John Hughes. 

By then I had filed a Federal lawsuit against the CT Judicial Branch for the violations which I had detailed in my letter to Attorney Hughes.  I asked Attorney Deirdre Daly if her offices would be interested in filing an Amicus Brief on my behalf for my federal lawsuit.  In conclusion, I stated, "I know that I am not alone in facing discrimination and the denial of [federal ADA rights] at the CT Judicial Branch.  If necessary, I can provide you with the specific names of individuals whose experiences parallel mine.  This is an urgent and compelling matter."
In the same way that I had not heard a thing from Attorney Hughes, again I did not hear a single thing from Attorney Deirdre M. Daly in response to my request.  Not even a simple acknowledgement letter, which in my book is merely a matter of courtesy and respect to a CT taxpayer.
Another six months went by and I received a letter dated January 8, 2014 signed by both Attorney Deirdre M. Daly and Attorney John Hughes, copy to Ms. Susan Skipp, another litigant who had been raising issues to the DOJ re ADA law, stating that they would be pursuing an "ADA compliance review of the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch."  According the letter, "This review will examine ADA complaints that the Judicial Branch has received, the responses, and the accommodations process.  It will also examine the training that the judges and support staff receive regarding the ADA.  Included in the review will be inquiries into the family court and the divorce processes."
Ok, so as of January 8, 2015 it was a full year since both Susan Skipp and I received that letter from the CT DOJ Attorneys Daly and Hughes.  During the year both of us made repeated inquires regarding the progress of this investigation and received no response.  We also made inquiries among our friends asking them if the DOJ had approached any one of them for information and the answer, with one exception, was uniformly no. 
Since I could not get a response from Attorney John Hughes or Attorney Deirdre Daly in regard to the outcome of their investigation, or a response as to whether they would join my lawsuit with an amicus brief, on December 31, 2014 I hired an attorney to send both DOJ attorneys an inquiry regarding what they intended to do specifically in regard to the amicus brief. 
On February 5, 2015 I received a response.  Of course, I only received this response because I had hired an attorney at considerable personal expense to do so.  But I will put this aside for the moment.  Essentially, Attorney John Hughes sent an email stating his offices refused to authorize an amicus brief for the reasons as follows, "The specific issue presented in the Richter appeal is one of “perceived” disability and that is a difficult issue which Disability Rights is not prepared to recommend for participation as an amicus."
I want to bring you all here, my readership as witnesses, from what you read in this blog does my complaint solely address the issue of the "perceived as" category of Title II ADA law?  You recall, don't you, how I listed five separate areas in which I indicated that the Connecticut Judicial Branch is not in compliance with Federal ADA law.  You can recall, I assume, that I talked about the fact that the CT Judicial Branch denied I had an anxiety disorder and denied me reasonable accommodations for that disorder for six years? 

So out of this broad range of issues I presented, the CT DOJ essentially sifted through to the one issue it doesn't like to address, claims that this is the only one that exists in my complaint, and then says, "we don't want to deal with it because it is too difficult"!  Oh please, give me a break!  And remember, I first brought my concerns in 2012, and it took them up until 2015 to finally say, please don't come to us for help even though we are legally mandated to provide you with help.  Stop waiting outside our door, because it will never open.  I mean, was it that hard for the Office of Civil Rights at the CT DOJ operated by Daly and Hughes to figure out that it was going to abandon people with disabilities in the State of CT who are being denied access to legal proceedings at the CT Judicial Branch that it took three years for them to figure this out?
Now, we have a new announcement from these very same people--Attorney Deirdre M. Daly and Attorney John Hughes stating that they are heading an investigation into corrupt CT government officials.  See the links below:

What is this?  A bit of public relations?  A bit of let's silence our critics by launching another fake investigation? 
At the very least, could we first get a report on the so-called investigation into the CT Judicial Branch compliance with Federal ADA law under Title II before embarking on the next investigation?  Unless the CT DOJ is going to say that the simply laughable study the CT Judicial Branch posted on its website in Nov. 2014 is all they intend to do with it.  See below:
You know, if it isn't one bit of nonsense, its another!

Many of us who have experienced this injustice from the CT Judicial Branch have been suffering for over a decade, and many more are newly embroiled in family court cases that are shot through with graft and corruption.  We had the Commission of 2002 that resulted in nothing, a task force in 2014 that resulted in flawed legislation--bill 494--which judges, attorneys and GALs are busily ignoring.  There is the ADA investigation into the CT Judicial Branch which the CT DOJ refuses to comment on, and now they've come up with another?  You will excuse me if I say I am a  bit skeptical about this.  
The bottom line is that since 2010 Attorney Deirdre Daly has been in charge of the Civil Rights Division of the CT DOJ during a time when citizens have been in regular communication with her regarding violations of civil rights and violations of ADA law.  She is the first person we should be investigating in regard to corruption based upon her do-nothing response to the outcry of the suffering people of Connecticut.