GR 33 - Requests for Accommodation by Persons with Disabilities
Comments for GR 33 must be received no later than November 8, 2010.
GR 9 COVER SHEET
Suggested Technical Changes
Rule 33 - Requests for Accommodation by Persons with Disabilities
Purpose: The proposed revisions are in the nature of technical changes to the rule under GR 9(f)(1) because the need for them arises from errors, oversights, or omissions with respect to the proponents’ understanding of judicial operations and systems. The proposed changes do not affect the substance of the rule or its requirements, but instead are intended to address the errors, oversights and omissions that became apparent only with experience in the process of implementation.
The proposed technical changes are:
- Conforms the definition of “person with a disability” to the definition adopted by Congress in the American Disability Act Amendments of 2008 and the Washington state Legislature RCW 49.60.040(7)(a). Subsection (1)(2).
- Omit the definition of “court” as independently elected County Clerks, who are substantially responsible for carrying out the functions under the Rule, are a politically separate entity and the definition could be interpreted as impairing their independent authority.
- Clarifies that there are two distinct types of applicants who are entitled to be accommodated by courts, applicants who are directly involved in a pending judicial proceeding and other members of the public who need to or want to access courts but are not directly affected by a pending proceeding. The intent of the rule was to set up a process by which persons directly involved in a judicial proceeding could seek an accommodation. However, in the absence of other informal procedures by which accommodations could be requested for other public access to courts, members of the public were seeking assistance under the rule, resulting in public recordkeeping and file management problems for Clerks and Court Administrators. Thus, the rule revises the definition of “Applicants” by separating the two potential types of applicants and defining them distinctly as “Proceedings Applicant” and “Public Applicant”. New subsections (a)(3) and (4).
- Clarifies that local procedures may be adopted to supplement the requirements of the rule and that applicants may proceed either under the rule or available local procedures. However, any disputed or denied request for an accommodation would automatically be reviewed under the requirements of the rule. This change flows from the fact that at the time GR 33 was adopted some courts had in place very efficient procedures for accommodating persons with disabilities and several other courts have since adopted administrative procedures that avoid the need for judicial involvement in the first instance. The proponents of GR 33 did not intend to disrupt those procedures. The goal was to assure that any disputed accommodation would be subject to judicial determination. The technical change recognizes the value of the efficiencies and allows them to remain in place, but protects the rights of persons with disabilities to seek review under the rule if a requested accommodation is denied. Subsection (b)(1).
- Substitutes the word “submitted” for the word “filed” in subsections (c)(2) and (3) to address expressed by Court Clerks regarding having all applications for accommodation be considered public records and related recordkeeping requirements for “filed” documents. Subsections (c)(2) and (3).
- Adds a Comment encouraging courts to adopt informal procedures for the handling of requests for accommodations made by members of the general public as distinct from persons involved with pending judicial proceedings.