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Disability Rights Legal Center Newsletter
Good News Report
DRLC Newsletter

Friday, November 11, 2011

Hoy Reports on 'Shocking Abuse' of Inmates with Disabilities
in Los Angeles Jails         

 

Screencapture of Hoy article 'Indignante abuso a reos discapacitados'
Screen capture of Hoy article
On November 8, the Spanish-language newspaper Hoy published "Indignante abuso a reos discapacitados" or "Shocking abuse of disabled inmates." The article sheds light on the appalling conditions that inmates with disabilities endure inside Los Angeles County jails. The story centers on a lawsuit, Johnson v. Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, filed in 2008 by the DLRC and other civil rights groups to improve conditions in the jails for inmates with mobility disabilities. In the article, Christian Reyes, a twenty-one-year-old former inmate who uses a wheelchair, tells how he was deprived of a catheter to urinate, placed in solitary confinement for seven months and in cells without grab bars to help him transfer to the toilet and denied accommodations. Other inmates from the jail shared similar stories of these conditions. DRLC Legal Director Shawna Parks is quoted in the article, saying "These are the most shocking conditions I've seen in my years of working in disability rights." The reporter not only interviews inmates but also their parents. One mother remembers tearfully how after her son was released he suffered nightmares from his time in jail, and said, "I complained all the time, I'm going to complain until I die." The plaintiffs contend in the lawsuit that by subjecting people with disabilities to these conditions, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, California and federal statutes, and the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. Read the Spanish-language version, or the English-language version.

City of L.A. Ordered to Hire Experts to Revise Emergency Plans to Address Needs of People with Disabilities  

 

Los Angeles City Hall
photo by Brion VIbber

On November 9, a federal judge ordered the City of Los Angeles to hire independent experts to review and revise the City's emergency plans to address the safety of people with disabilities. The City must complete review and revision of all emergency plans within three years, and provide bi-annual reports on its progress. Although the Court allowed for the three years to complete the process, the Court further ordered that "the City begin this review and revision without delay, and that it proceed as expeditiously as possible in this process." Read the Order Regarding Injunctive Relief

 

The injunction follows an order issued by Judge Consuelo Marshall in February 2011 in the class action lawsuit CALIF. et al. v. City of Los Angeles et at, brought on behalf of all people with disabilities in Los Angeles. See Case No. Cv-09-0287 CBM (RZx). In her February 2011 decision, Judge Marshall held that the City of Los Angeles violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to meet the needs of its residents with disabilities in planning for disasters, and granted the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment. That landmark decision highlighted a national problem made evident during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, when people with disabilities were left behind to die because of a lack of disability planning. The Court held that "[b]ecause of the City's failure to address their unique needs, individuals with disabilities are disproportionately vulnerable to harm in the event of an emergency or disaster." The Court further noted more specific deficiencies, including in such areas as plans for sheltering, evacuation and communication during major disasters. The decision was the first of its kind in the country. Read the Order Granting Summary Judgment

 

In this most recent order, Judge Marshall ordered the City to perform a comprehensive review of its emergency plans to revise them to address the serious deficiencies she had previously identified. Judge Marshall ordered the City to use nationally recognized experts in this process, explaining that "[t]he expert will evaluate the City's current plans and develop revised emergency plans as to all components of the City's emergency preparedness program to address the needs of persons with disabilities."

 

The Associated Press wrote the article "City of LA to review emergency plan for disabled" about U.S. District Court Judge Consuelo Marshall's order on November 9, 2011, regarding injunctive relief.

Conference Addresses Trends in Employment Practices

and Honors Advocates for Workplace Equality 

  

Chai Feldblum  and Paula Pearlman

The Employment Roundtable of Southern California held its 2011 Annual Conference and Awards Luncheon on Thursday, November 3rd at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. Paula Pearlman, DRLC Executive Director and Chair of the Employment Round Table of Southern California, welcomed more than 200 attendees who came to learn about "Emerging Trends in Employment Practices---Simplifying the Complexities of Today's Workplace." The conference was presented in collaboration with the California Department of Fair Employment & Housing.

 

Conference chair and ERTSC Board Member, Charlene Lewis, along with Program Chairs and Board Members Marcia Haight and Joan Smiles, planned an extraordinary conference. Speakers included the Honorable Chai Feldblum, EEOC Commissioner nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate for a term ending on July 1, 2013; Honorable Anna Caballero, Secretary, California & Consumer Services Agency; Phyllis W. Cheng, Director, Department of Fair Employment & Housing; Julie Su, Labor Commissioner & Chief of Department of Labor Standards Enforcement; Joe Beachboard, Ogletree Deakins; Jonathan Boxer, Sr. Counsel, Northrop Grumman Corporation; Dennis Davis, Ph.D., Psychologist, Director of Client Training, Ogletree Deakins; Denise Rodine, Executive Director, Employee Relations & Development NBC Universal; Nancy Bornn, Bornn & Surls; Debra Fischer, Bingham, McCutcheon; Andrew Friedman, Helmer & Friedman; Anthony Oncidi, Proskauer; and Deborah Saxe, Jones Day.  

 

Julie Su, Phyllis W. Cheng, and Paula Pearlman

During a truly inspirational luncheon, ERTSC 2011 Civil Rights and Leadership in Diversity Awards were presented to Father Gregory Boyle, Founder Homeboy Bakeries; Anthony Solana, Jr., Esq., Founder and President, For People of Color; and Morris "Morrie" Turner, Syndicated Cartoonist (Wee Pals), Author and Illustrator.  

 

The Employment Round Table is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the elimination of bias in the workplace and the education of the employer community about issues relating to employment discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and other issues covered by the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.

Paula Pearlman Serves on ABA Commission on Disability Rights 

           

Paula Pearlman, DRLC Executive Director, attended her first meeting as a new Commissioner of the American Bar Association Commission on Disability Rights, in Denver, Colorado, in conjunction with the ABA's General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division meeting. The ABA Commission on Disability Rights' mission is to promote the ABA's commitment to justice and the rule of law for persons with mental, physical, and sensory disabilities and to promote their full and equal participation in the legal profession. The Commission carries out an array of projects and activities addressing disability public policy, disability law, and the professional needs of lawyers and law students with disabilities. Ms. Pearlman is the chair of the Spring 2013 National Conference and Law Students with Mental and Physical Disabilities committees, and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board and Continuing Legal Education committees. 

We Thank You for Your Service 

           

The DRLC salutes our nation's veterans on this Veteran's Day 2011.  We honor the men and women who have provided dedicated and loyal service to their country and we deeply appreciate the sacrifices they have made in their lives to keep our country free.  As our veterans return home, some face challenges concerning disability issues and the DRLC is ready to help them with trainings, resources and meaningful referrals. Visit our website or call our organization for more information at 1-866-843-2572. 

Good News Report Is Taking a Mini Vacation 

           

The DRLC will not produce a Good News Report for November 18 and November 25 because of the DRLC's Franklin D. Roosevelt Dinner and the Thanksgiving  Holiday. The next Good News Report will be sent on December 2. The DRLC wishes all our readers a wonderful and delicious Thanksgiving.  

FDR Dinner logo  

DRLC Inaugural Franklin D. Roosevelt Dinner

Thursday, November 17   

 

We are pleased to invite you to our inaugural Franklin D. Roosevelt Dinner. 

Omni Hotel, 251 South Olive Street, Los Angeles, CA 90017

For more information, go to the  FDR Dinner Webpage 

 

Silent Auction 

Cocktails 5 p.m.
Dinner Promptly 6:30 p.m.

   

Hosted by Jennifer Bjorklund, NBC4

 

Michael Bonnabel will perform an excerpt from  "The Good Boy" 

 

Distinguished Honorees

 

Corporate Diversity Award

NBCUniversal

 

Charles D. Siegal President's Award

Francine R. Kaufman, M.D.

 

Disability Rights in Entertainment, Arts & Media Award

Nick Jonas

How to Help   

Shop at Ralphs and Defend Rights of People with Disabilities  
 
Ralph's Community Contributions Program logo

Thank you so much for championing the rights of people with disabilities by supporting the DRLC through Ralphs Community Contribution Program. The new program year began on September 1, 2011. Even if you are currently registered as a member, you must register again. The DRLC uses every dollar donated from this program to serve people with disabilities. Please visit www.ralphs.com  to both re-register and to register.

Champion the Rights of People with Disabilities by Shopping, Searching Online  

 

You can support the work of the Disability Rights Legal Center simply by shopping and searching online. Become an iGive member and choose the DRLC as one of the causes you support, then click on an iGive link to one of the almost one thousand participating retailers, including Amazon.com, Bed Bath & Beyond, DisneyStore.com, eBay, Expedia.com, Hotwire.com, Macy's, NORDSTROM.com, Overstock.com, ProFlowers, Sport Chalet, Travelocity. You will not pay more for products, rather the companies give a listed percentage of the purchase to your cause. There are no obligations or hidden fees. Causes always receive 100% of the donation amount advertised on iGive's website. You can also contribute to the DRLC simply by using iGive's search engine. Go to iGive.com to sign up.

Donate

The online credit card donation feature is available on the Make a Donation page of the DRLC website. This quick and easy function can be used for general donations.   

 

Volunteer

Visit the How You Can Help page of our website to volunteer as a pro bono attorney on a disability rights case, work as a student law clerk or assist with intake and administrative responsibilities.

                      

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DRLC Group Photo 2011
Disability Rights Legal Center Staff October 2011