X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
In what could lead to a swell of court challenges, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to California parole decisions. The case was brought by two men housed in a state prison in Vacaville, Calif., who argue that the Board of Prison Terms hasn’t given them a fair shake because it does not want former drug addicts roaming the streets. The merits of the case were not decided, but the decision establishes new legal footing for prisoners to argue that parole decisions are unfair. “Because we conclude that there is no categorical rule excluding parole decisions from the scope of the ADA, we reverse the ruling of the district court,” reads the unsigned opinion. The panel consisted of Judge Raymond Fisher, Senior Judge Betty Fletcher and Senior 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Myron Bright, sitting by designation. “Since a parole board may not deny African-Americans consideration for parole because of their race, and since Congress thinks that discriminating against a disabled person is like discriminating against an African-American, the parole board may not deny a disabled person parole because of his disability,” the opinion reads. A federal judge in Sacramento, Calif., will now have to decide whether the parole board discriminated against the plaintiffs because of their past drug addiction, which is considered a disability under the ADA. Ongoing, illegal drug use is not a disability under the ADA. “They’ll finally have a chance to prove their case,” said Sara Norman, a lawyer with the Prison Law Office in San Quentin who argued the appeal for Charles W. Thompson and Stephen Bogovich. The two had pursued their case pro se for several years before finding counsel. “My clients have been drug and alcohol free for many years now,” she added. Norman said the ruling in Thompson v. Davis, 02 C.D.O.S. 2207, might also apply to those suffering mental disabilities covered by the ADA. Her clients argued, and the court agreed, that consideration for parole meets the ADA’s definition of a “public program or activity.” In a ruling adopted by U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell Jr. of the Eastern District of California, a magistrate had decided that the ADA didn’t apply because the law doesn’t cover “the substantive decision-making process in the criminal law context.” “We find no basis for concluding that Title II of the ADA contains such a broad exception,” the 9th Circuit said. The panel also suggested that the ADA covers a panoply of law enforcement decision making, including arrests. Denise Schmidt, spokeswoman for the California Board of Prison Terms, denied the state discriminates against former drug users. “The parole board doesn’t discriminate against anybody based on disability,” Schmidt said.

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.