000;

  
 

The Arc of California, and California
Advocates for Nursing Home Reform

Complaints to the Sacramento County Superior Court

The Failure of the Court to Appoint Counsel to Represent
Conservatorship Respondents Violates State and Federal Disability Laws
 

Complaint #1
Developmental Disabilities
Complaint #2
Age-Related and Other
Users Guide to Exhibits Declarations
Sitting Ducks Essay Press Release from Spectrum Institute
Letters From Spectrum Institute to:
Sacramento Superior Court -- Chief Justice of California  -- DFEH Director

Letter from The Arc of California to:
Sacramento Superior Court
On August 16, 2018, Spectrum Institute, The Arc of California, and California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform filed two administrative complaints with the Sacramento County Superior Court.  The complaints are authorized by regulations implementing Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as well as a directive from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.  DFEH implements civil rights laws in California prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability by programs and services operated by the state.

Complaint #1 -- filed by Spectrum Institute and The Arc of California alleges that the court's failure to appoint attorneys for conservatorship respondents who have intellectual and developmental disabilities deprives these involuntary litigants of meaningful access to justice in violation of the ADA and Section 504, as well as the protections of California Government Code Section 11135.

Complaint #2 -- filed by Spectrum Institute and California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, alleges that the court's failure to appoint attorneys for conservatorship respondents who have cognitive and communicated disabilities that are age-related or that arise from accidents or medical illnesses deprives these involuntary liigants of meaningful access to justice in violation of the ADA and Section 504, as well as the protections of California Government Code Section 11135.

The complaints ask the superior court to modify its policies and practices to ensure access to justice for adults such disabilities who are issued citations by the court to appear in general conservatorship proceedings.  Unlike respondents in limited conservatorship proceedings who are automatically provided counsel by the court, respondents in general conservatorship proceedings are often not appointed counsel.  Without an attorney to assist them in these complex legal proceedings, the nature and extent of their disabilities prevent these litigants from having meaningful participation and effective communication in these cases.  This is a violation of due process and equal protection of the law under the state and federal constitutions, as well as a violation of state and federal disability laws.

The failure to appoint counsel to advocate for and defend respondents in general conservatorship proceedings is not limited to the Sacramento area.  This practice exists in many other regions of the state.  The problem also exists in more than 20 other states.  This just happens to be the first court in the nation to receive administrative complaints of this nature.

Exhibit A
Regional Center
Exhibit B
Probate Notes
Exhibit C
Citation Form
Exhibit D
Section 1471(b)
Exhibit E
Supreme Court
Exhibit F
Section 11135
Exhibit G
ADA Materials
Exhibit H
Standing


About Thomas F. Coleman
- Legal Director, Spectrum Institute

Throughout his 45 years as a civil rights attorney, Thomas F. Coleman has advocated for a variety of causes and minority populations, including cases and projects promoting justice and equal rights for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

As legal director of Spectrum Institute, Coleman has worked closely with Dr. Nora J. Baladerian on issues involving abuse and disability. He is the primary author of “The First Report: Victims and Their Families Speak Out” – an analysis of the 2012 Survey on Abuse of People with Disabilities, which is the largest national survey on abuse and disability ever conducted in the United States.

For the past six years, Coleman has directed the Disability and Guardianship Project of Spectrum Institute. Starting with a focus on California, Coleman’s advocacy for guardianship reform has broadened to become a national cause.  He has written extensively on this subject.  His numerous publications are found in the Digital Law Library on Guardianship and Disability Rights.

Coleman’s advocacy efforts for guardianship reform have been acknowledged by awards from The Arc of California and the international organization known as TASH.

Pursuit of Justice is a documentary by filmmaker Greg Byers tracking the efforts of Coleman, Baladerian, and a growing network of advocates to secure access to justice for people with disabilities who find themselves entangled in guardianship and conservatorship proceedings.