Department of Justice Complaint Number 204-11-90

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This Settlement Agreement ("Agreement") fully resolves the issues raised in a complaint filed under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131 - 12134, with the United States Department of Justice ("Department") against the Santa Clara County Superior Court ("Court"). The complaint alleges that the Court's policies and procedures for providing assistive listening systems and other auxiliary aids and services do not ensure effective communication with hard of hearing persons. This limits the participation of hard of hearing individuals in the Court's programs, services and activities. The parties have engaged in extensive discussion concerning the issues and determined that the agreements made herein will resolve this complaint.

The parties hereby agree as follows:

1. The subject of this Settlement Agreement is the provision of appropriate auxiliary aids and services to ensure effective communication and an equal opportunity for hard of hearing persons to participate in the programs, services and activities conducted by the Court.

2. The Court will furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services when necessary to afford hard of hearing individuals the opportunity to participate in Court activities in accordance with California State Rule of Court 989.3, Requests for Accommodations by Persons With Disabilities. Auxiliary aids and services may include qualified sign or oral interpreters, assistive listening devices or systems, real time transcription, written materials, note pads and other effective methods of making aurally delivered materials available to hard of hearing individuals.

3. The Court will provide an opportunity for hard of hearing individuals to request the auxiliary aid or service of their choice, and will give primary consideration to the choice expressed. "Primary consideration" means that the Court will honor the choice, unless it can be shown that another equally effective means of communication is available, or that the use of the means chosen would result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of the program, service or activity, or in an undue financial or administrative burden.

4. The Santa Clara County Court system consists of 54 courtrooms, located in six buildings throughout the county. The Court will provide appropriate assistive listening technology for any courtroom in the system to meet the needs of hard of hearing persons for effective communication.

5. The Court will develop a written policy for provision of auxiliary aids or services when necessary to ensure effective communication in the Court system's programs, services and activities. The policy and its implementing procedures will include the following:


A) the name, office address and telephone number of the individual(s) responsible for providing appropriate auxiliary aids and services;

B) procedures delineating how one requests an aid or service, including:

* the name, office address and telephone number of the individual(s) directly responsible for responding to the request;

* where one calls or writes to make a request;

* the date by which the requester will be informed of the outcome of his or her request;

C) specific procedures regarding maintenance of auxiliary aids and services, including assistive listening systems. These procedures must detail when, where and how the equipment will be maintained in good operating order and who is responsible for such maintenance.

In each Court Clerk's office, the Court will post a notice in a conspicuous location advising individuals with disabilities of the procedures to make a request for an auxiliary aid or service.

6. The Court will ensure that availability of auxiliary aids and services will be well posted in all Superior Court buildings. Appropriate written notices, signage, and other communications with the public will include information regarding the policy for providing special accommodations. Written notices will identify responsible staff and explain how to acquire services.

7. The Court will distribute the policy and procedures outlined in paragraph 5 to all judges and staff. Within 90 days of the effective date of this Agreement, the Court will provide training to appropriate staff concerning implementation of these policies and procedures for ensuring effective communication with hard of hearing individuals. The training will emphasize the differences in the communication needs of hard of hearing individuals as compared with deaf persons, and the different methods of communicating with hard of hearing persons via telephone and in the courtroom. The training will also cover operation, use and maintenance of auxiliary aids and services, including a plan of scheduled maintenance.

8. The Court will monitor the implementation of the policy and procedures outlined in paragraph 5 for two years. The Court will continue to compile statistics on all required information and report monthly to the Judicial Council. The Court will update its assistive listening technology and/or obtain additional equipment when deemed appropriate by the Court, and consistent with the ADA, to meet the needs of individuals with hearing disabilities.

9. Within 60 days of the effective date of this Agreement, the Court will submit a report to the Department of Justice describing the actions taken to implement the provisions of this Agreement.
10. The Department of Justice may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If it believes that this Agreement or any requirement thereof has been violated, the Department of Justice may institute civil action seeking specific performance of the provisions of this Agreement in an appropriate United States District Court.

11. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.

12. This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties on the matters addressed herein. No other statement, promise or agreement, either written or oral, made by either party or agents of either party, that is not contained in the written Agreement, will be enforceable.

For the United States of America:

Deval L. Patrick

Joan Magagna, Deputy Chief
Sheila Foran, Attorney
Thomas Esbrook, Equal Opportunity Specialist
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 66738
Washington, D.C. 20035-6738
(202) 307-0663


For the Santa Clara County Superior Court:

Judge Biafore
Presiding Judge
Santa Clara County Superior Court

Stephen V. Love
Court Executive Officer

Melanie C. Conroy
Facilities Manager

John Longabaugh
Equal Opportunity Division




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