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stebbinsd

Court access & the ADA

3 posts in this topic

To be protected by the ADA, a person must be "otherwise qualified" to receive a particular service. If a person is not otherwise qualified, he is not protected by the ADA in the first instance, and therefore, employers, government entities, and places of public accommodation can discriminate against that person to their heart's content.

 

In regards to court access, a person is presumed "otherwise qualified" solely on account of him being a U.S. citizen.

 

However, that's the thing about presumptions: They can be overcome with evidence.

 

Sometimes, a person may be declared "incompetent to stand trial" by a psychiatric evaluation. While this is wonderful news for a defendant in criminal court looking to have his charges dismissed, I wonder if it may be a kiss of death for that same person in literally any other circumstance.

 

If that same person seeks court access in the future (this time, on his own accord), could the court use the fact that he was declared "incompetent to stand trial" in a criminal case, at which point, they are allowed to discriminate against him and deny him access to the courts because of his disability, without violating the ADA.

 

I wonder if this has actually been attempted before.

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55 minutes ago, stebbinsd said:

Sometimes, a person may be declared "incompetent to stand trial" by a psychiatric evaluation. While this is wonderful news for a defendant in criminal court looking to have his charges dismissed

 

No it isn't.  A person who is declared incompetent to stand trial is typically confined to a mental facility until he or she becomes competent.  Charges aren't dismissed as a result, and such confinement can last for years.

 

 

56 minutes ago, stebbinsd said:

If that same person seeks court access in the future (this time, on his own accord), could the court use the fact that he was declared "incompetent to stand trial" in a criminal case, at which point, they are allowed to discriminate against him and deny him access to the courts because of his disability, without violating the ADA.

 

That a person was, at some time in the past, declared incompetent to stand trial has no relevance in a future, unrelated legal proceeding (and, indeed, under just about any circumstance, evidence of a finding of incompetency would be excluded from evidence).

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2 hours ago, stebbinsd said:

To be protected by the ADA, a person must be "otherwise qualified" to receive a particular service. If a person is not otherwise qualified, he is not protected by the ADA in the first instance, and therefore, employers, government entities, and places of public accommodation can discriminate against that person to their heart's content.

 

 

No, that's wrong. The entity/agency cannot "discriminate against that person to their heart's content." But the entity may, of course, decline to provide the service to the individual if the individual is not qualified for them with or without accommodation, just as the entity may refuse service to a nondisabled person who is not qualified for those services. In that case the disabled person and nondisabled person are being treated the same: they are being refused because they do not meet the eligibility requirements for some reason other than a disability that can be accommodated, and thus under the ADA that is not illegal discrimination. But that does not open the door for the entity to discriminate against the person on any other basis the entity desires. There are still laws that prohibit other forms of discrimination. And when it comes to the government, there are still constitutional principles of equal protection that must be considered as well.

 

2 hours ago, stebbinsd said:

Sometimes, a person may be declared "incompetent to stand trial" by a psychiatric evaluation. While this is wonderful news for a defendant in criminal court looking to have his charges dismissed, I wonder if it may be a kiss of death for that same person in literally any other circumstance.

 

Being declared incompetent to stand trial does not generally get the charges dismissed. Rather, it gets the defendant confined for treatment until such time as he or she is competent to stand trial, at which time he or she may be tried on the charges against him/her. This is not "great news" for any defendant. First, it is never great to be truly incompetent. And second, being confined to a mental institution is no treat. And third, it doesn't get the defendant out of the criminal charges anyway. 

 

2 hours ago, stebbinsd said:

If that same person seeks court access in the future (this time, on his own accord), could the court use the fact that he was declared "incompetent to stand trial" in a criminal case, at which point, they are allowed to discriminate against him and deny him access to the courts because of his disability, without violating the ADA.

 

It does not matter under Title II of the ADA what disability, if any, a person had in the past. The ADA looks at what disability the person has at the time he or she requests the government service and requires that the person be provided that service on the same basis as everyone else, with accommodation as needed to achieve that, assuming he or she is qualifed for that service in the first place. A court cannot bar a person from its services simply because the person was deemed incompetent to stand trial in the past. That has no bearing on providing services to the person today. 

 

Underlying your question seems to be an assumption that if a person is at one time not "otherwise qualified" that he or she is forever not otherwise qualified and thus not protected by the ADA. That of course would be absurd and the law does not work that way. You have to look at the circumstances at the time of any alleged discrimination to determine if the person was otherwise qualified, what accommodation if any might be required, and whether any discrimination took place. 

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