The Lead

Pa. courts system says it intends to ‘fully comply’ with ADA, following DOJ letter detailing violations

By: - February 25, 2022 1:43 pm

Pennsylvania’s court system said this week that it will fully comply with a section of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) it was found to be in violation of earlier this month. 

In a letter dated Feb. 23, The United Judicial System of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania responded to a Feb. 2 letter from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) outlining violations to the ADA by two Common Pleas courts, writing that it intends to “comply fully with the requirements of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and its implementing regulations.”

The DOJ letter followed a federal investigation that was sparked by three legal complaints – two in Jefferson County and one in Northumberland County – where complainants alleged that the courts required them to stop taking treatment medication for Opioid Use Disorder in order to graduate from drug court programs.

Justice Department finds Pa. courts in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act

The DOJ concluded that by doing this, the courts effectively denied the complainants “an equal opportunity” to benefit from drug court and probation programs.

The response letter, which comes more than two weeks after the seven-day response deadline issued by the DOJ, noted that the UJS prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities, as defined by the federal law. 

“… The judicial branch of the government of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania assures the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division (Division) that it currently meets, and will continue to satisfy, the requirements of Title II relating to treatments courts and permitting prescribed medication for treatment of Opioid Use Disorder (OUD). Accordingly, in our view, there is no basis for injunctive relief.”

Instead, the UJS said that it would continue to train its treatment court team members on best practices at regularly held train opportunities. 

“We ask the Division to recognize the considerable, ongoing efforts of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and AOPC [Administration of Pennsylvania Courts] to assist Pennsylvania’s judicial districts in maintaining statewide compliance with the ADA and other governing legal requirements,” the letter reads.

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.