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Appeal for Mediation Interpreter

Wednesday, June, 29, 2016

Indiana’s Attorney General has appealed the federal court ruling that discrimination against a Marion County deaf man was in violation of the ADA by rejecting his request for an interpreter at a court-ordered mediation. The case related to the man’s child custody rights. The state is asking the judge to stay her order granting partial summary judgement and asked for certification of an interlocutory appeal, contending that it provide evidence there are no damages, injuries, or emotional distress.


It was ruled the county waiving the mediation requirement was not a reasonable accommodation and instead was deliberate indifference. The state argued the federal circuit courts are split over what is an appropriate standard for showing intentional discrimination, and furthermore, Indiana sees private mediation not as a judicial service or proceeding, so there is no set standard as to whether access to judicial services is required.


As the state appeals the current ruling, the director of legal services for the National Association for the Deaf said the case should not be precedent setting, pointing out that state courts, for some time, have made their programs and services accessible in mediations. He believes mediations are a program or service of the court, but points out that state courts are unaware of their legal obligations to make programs access to the deaf and other people with disabilities. Many familiar with the case believe there are stall tactics at work and that the effort to overturn the ruling is just to affect the overall outcome of the case.