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An upstate New York judge has held for the first time that the courts must reasonably accommodate a visually impaired attorney who breached the time restrictions for submitting a judgment. New York State Supreme Court Justice Robert F. Julian said the requirement under 22 NYCRR � 200.48 that mandates submission of a judgment within 60 days and deems the order abandoned if the time limit is missed can be waived because of an attorney’s handicap. It is the first decision in the state to hold that the time restriction can be lifted to accommodate a physical disability. The decision arose in the case of Spinella v. Town of Paris Zoning Board of Appeals, 02-00428. After the petitioner’s counsel, Norman P. Deep of Clinton, N.Y., failed to submit a proposed judgment within the 60 days required, the respondents moved to dismiss the petition as abandoned. In response, Deep, who has a disability as defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act, requested a reasonable accommodation. Deep noted that he was accommodated with 37 readers and several recorders while attending Syracuse University Law School, was granted four days rather than two to complete the bar exam and is routinely provided by state and federal courts with twice the usual time to respond to motions and orders. He explained that he was late submitting a judgment in this case because he had lost his longtime secretary. Justice Julian found no precedent for extending the time limits in 202.48. What he did find was a line of cases providing direction on the accommodations that should be extended to handicapped jurors and jurists. Finding that the “courtroom and court system constitute the trial lawyer’s workplace,” and that the workplace “logically extends to the preparation of documents associated with litigation,” Julian held that Deep is owed an accommodation. “If petitioner’s counsel was given reasonable accommodation in terms of extended time limits to take the bar exam or law school examinations, similar accommodation should be made by this court given the discretion vested in it by the regulation,” Julian wrote. “The court finds that the accommodation sought in this case helps petitioner’s counsel perform the essential functions of his profession and is not personal to him. The accommodation sought is not unreasonable and does not impose an undue hardship upon the judicial system.” Thomas O’Brien of Clinton appeared for the respondents.

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