California’s protection & advocacy system
For legal assistance call 800-776-5746. For all other purposes call 916-504-5800 in Northern CA
or 213-213-8000 in Southern CA. TTY 800-719-5798.
Listen to Sean Rashkis, attorney at Disability Rights California , discuss recent security problems at Napa state hospital on NPR's Forum.
The status report of Disability Rights California's case (Napper et al vs. County of Sacramento) shows that the cuts in the County's community-based mental health outpatient services remain enjoined, while discussions continue. The case was brought against Sacramento County to stop its implementation of a "hybrid plan," consisting mainly of substituting County staff to provide mental health services now provided by contracted personnel at several community-based clinics. As facilitated discussions continue, the contracted services remain in operation. See the status report for details on the case.
Far From Home, synopsis of a film mentioning Disability Rights California and the case Mark Chambers v. City and County of San Francisco (LHH), 10/2010
On September 24, 2010 National Public Radio's popular report by Ira Glass, "This American Life," included a segment about what they called a California cottage industry of surviving by suing businesses that are inaccessible and violate the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. The hour long program was devoted to "Crybabies," sardonically described as malcontents who pursue justice and remedies through whining, crying, complaining or suing. The ADA segment starts at around 33'' minutes in. Read about the details.
Advocate Jeff Cowen researched and wrote up these stories of four Californians placed against their will in the DeWitt State Hospital. Read them here.
The perfect last day of a California summer drew a collection of advocates, supporters and community representatives to the Stockton Rural Cemetery. The gathering honored hundreds of people who had died anonymously while residing in the Stockton State Hospital, established in 1851 as the state's first "asylum" and closed in 1996. Read about it and see ceremony photos.
|Dori and Samantha, daughter and granddaughter of Margaret Johnson, who has a disability|
On August 23, the Governor signed a bill (SB 1188) to change family court law so that, in general, the disability of a parent no longer limits custody and visitation rights concerning his or her children. The law, which goes into effect on January 1, was sponsored by advocacy groups including Fathers and Families, and Disability Rights California.
|Petra Kuppers, left, sneaks a smooch to her partner Neil Marcus by her tent in "Arnieville." Both have disabilities which cause them to be wheelchair users. Both receive assistance from the State of California.|
On August 3, after the city's public health director spoke against it, Michela Alioto-Pier withdrew her proposal to implement "Laura's Law" in the county of San Francisco. The proposal would have authorized the city's chief of mental health to order people with severe mental illness into outpatient treatment. Dr. Mitch Katz, public health director, noted that the measure would restrict rights while not necessarily providing effective treatment, and at least one city supervisor noted unresolved cost issues. Read the August 4 Chronicle article.
On August 2, Dan Brzovic, associate managing attorney of Disability Rights California, submitted a letter to the editor of the Chronicle. The letter outlines various problems with "Laura's Law" as identified by a group of advocacy organizations known as the Cares Coalition and can be read here.
Dozens of low-income Californians with disabilities and their family members gathered outside the James Browning Courthouse in San Francisco on June 15 to show concern about the hearings taking place inside. A panel of judges listened to arguments from co-counsel on the V.L. v. Wagner case about why the state of California should not make cuts in In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) according to the Functional Index scores of recipients. In October, Federal Judge Claudia Wilken granted the injunction requested by Disability Rights California and co-counsel, halting the IHSS cuts affecting hundreds of thousands of people. The Administration then filed an appeal and the June 15 hearing was the result. The time that a panel takes to issue a decision varies with each case; a decision may not be issued for a number of months, according to Melinda Bird, Disability Rights California senior counsel.
In the meantime, the public is welcome to listen to the arguments on the 9th circuit's website. Read a June 15 news story about the IHSS recipients and service providers who would be seriously affected by the cuts.
Sacramento County's idea to scrimp on mental health services doesn't just threaten vulnerable patients. It turns out the plan may well be illegal and end up costing the county more than it would save. Read the rest of the Sacramento Bee Editorial, County must rethink cuts to mental health.
Sacramento County's plan to cut $17 million from mental health programs is illegal and could trigger a loss of $40 million in state funding, the chief counsel for the California Department of Mental Health has warned. Read the rest of the Sacramento Bee article.
Photo by Rick Jauregui
This report by Disability Rights California's Investigations Unit examines 12 cases of abuse in California nursing homes and finds an alarming pattern of under-reporting of these crimes to law enforcement.
Stuart Seaborn, a Disability Rights California attorney is quoted in the Capitol Weekly article
Disability Rights California staff member, Deborah Doctor, is quoted in this article "Governor seeks more accountability for nursing homes" regarding concerns of recent budget proposals on nursing home care.
Without any authority from the Legislature, the Schwarzenegger Administration is planning to purchase up to $5 million worth of military/security cameras to take pictures of the 450,000 seniors and people with disabilities who receive In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) homecare. Related media:
California to Test Fingerprint, Photograph Devices on In-Home Care Patients, Govtech.com, 3/19/10.
Disability Rights California are cited as "[winning] reprieves from legislators and the courts in 2009 to temporarily avert some of the most draconian cuts." Read the article here.
Among numerous public meetings and hearings on the budget taking place in Sacramento duing the week of the Ides of March are:
Read many other details in this CDCAN News Release.
On March 3, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Keeping All Students Safe Act (H.R. 4247) to ban dangerous practices of physically restraining students or secluding them in isolated or locked rooms. The bill was passed quickly, following 2009 Congressional hearings on these extreme techniques which have caused deaths in the schools, and national studies by the General Accounting Office and the National Disability Rights Network. Read about the legislation in the Washington Post, and the New York Times.
Children with mental health disabilities get lost in the system. Maggie Roberts, a Disability Rights California Associate Managing Attorney, reacts to an investigation by the California Department of Education which "found [that] several Monterey County agencies are violating state and federal laws in their handling of students with mental health problems."
Two weeks into ADAPT's Defending Our Freedom Campaign, there are already two victories. One, a resolution passed by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), has its roots in ADAPT's four-day and four-night protest vigil last July, held outside the DNC headquarters in Washington, D.C. despite torrential rains and no shelter for activists. The second victory is a meeting with staff from the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights (HHS OCR) scheduled for mid-April just prior to the spring ADAPT action in Washington. Read more here...
Stanton Price, a health issues lawyer with a special interest in bioethics and disability, died after a long illness on November 1 at his home in Glendale. He served for 6 years on the Disability Rights California Board, concluding in 2009. “We were fortunate to have Stan’s always sage advice that helped us move forward on health issues with the legislature,” stated Catherine Blakemore, executive director.
A 1964 graduate of Harvard Law School, he was a leader in the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Bioethics Committee. His interests and expertise ranged widely, illustrated by his frequently published letters to the LATimes and other papers for peace in the Middle East and against state-sanctioned assisted suicide and the ending of birthright citizenship.
A memorial service was held at Mt. Sinai in the Hollywood Hills on Sunday, November 7 at 11:00am. Visit the Mt. Sinai website for more details.
One of the individuals being recognized by the Los Angeles-based Self-Help and Recovery Exchange (SHARE) this year is Rosy Tellez. She is receiving the Ron Simmons and Rev. Ron Wright award for her work since 2004 with Recovery International to facilitate support groups and conduct outreaches within the monolingual Spanish-speaking community.
This week Andy Holcombe and Dan Brzovic received recognition for their years of effective advocacy for underserved Californians, Holcombe for his dedication to people with developmental disabilities and Brzovic for his outstanding support of mental health clients. The Butte County Coordinating Council annual celebration praised Andy Holcombe's lifetime of efforts, most recently as a Clients' Rights Advocate for the Far Northern regional center, as a spokeperson for the needs of youth, and formerly as a Mayor of Chico and as a public interest lawyer serving the Chico area.
Dan Brzovic, associate managing attorney of the Bay Area regional office, has been selected as the Legal Service Attorney of the Year by the California Association of Mental Health Patients' Rights Advocates. The award will be presented during the first week of November at the annual training of the group's members on the latest professional developments.
Disability Rights California advocates Marinda Reed and Maria Marquez are presenting a workshop on "The Lanterman Act changed: your rights didn't", and advocate Daniel Meadows is presenting a workshop on "Getting involved in your community." These are three of the 40 practical skills building sessions available to the many Californians with developmental disabilities and their advocates who attend the annual institute. Complete listing of keynotes and workshops: www.supportedlife.org
There will be ceremonies around the state and a statewide moment of silence to honor those who died unrecognized at State Hospitals and Developmental Centers. See the California Memorial Project flyer and the press release for event details
Disability Rights California is helping to create awareness about opportunities to move out of institutions into community-based housing throughout the state. As part of the settlement agreement of the Capitol People First (CPF) case, we have produced a poster (above) that asks the question, "Is community living right for you?" Created for display at residential institutions, the poster illustrates some everyday choices available through community living, such as riding a bus, spending time shopping, or at a library or watching television. The poster was designed in collaboration with the CPF legal and advocacy team. The Department of Developmental Services and the regional centers are helping to distribute the posters widely.
As part of the settlement in the Laguna Honda Hospital case (Chambers et al v. the City and County of San Francisco) support groups are being formed to help residents decide if they want to move into the community or groups who want to talk about how they did it and how they can support others who want to leave nursing homes. See sample flyer1 and flyer2. The settlement included support from the City and County of San Francisco for rental subsidies for 500 eligible class members, in other words, those covered by the lawsuit.
In Los Angeles during our June 7-10 conference with the National Disability Rights Network, several awards were given to recognize outstanding leadership. Shown here in photographs taken by Ricardo Jauregui, are leaders from California. In the photo above are (left to right) Dara Schur, Disability Rights California’s director of litigation; Justice Carlos R. Moreno of the Supreme Court of California and former president of the Mexican American Bar Association, recognized for addressing critical cutting-edge social policy issues; Attorney Henry Su of Howrey LLP, recognized for pro bono work on Americans with Disabilities Act cases (reported below); and Dianne Millner, president of our Board.
In the second photo above (left to right) are Catherine Blakemore, our executive director; Angelica Rodriguez, self-advocate, recognized for her courageous reporting of violent restraint practices used by a California psychiatric hospital; and Michael Stortz, senior attorney in our San Diego office and mental health advocate. On the dais above are Colleen Miller and Curt Decker, NDRN president and executive director, respectively. As we receive additional photographs of the June events, we will post them here or on our Facebook page.
|Award winners: the Strategist, Henry Su, and the Soloist, Nathaniel Ayers
(photo by Virginia Knowlton)
Among highlights of the 4 days of intensive training sessions were awards in recognition of advances in implementation of rights since the Americans with Disabilities Act, passed 20 years ago this July. Shown at left are two recipients: attorney Henry Su, who together with his firm, Howrey LLP, was recognized for successful strategies in major class action lawsuits filed due to discrimination based on the ADA; and classical musician Nathaniel Ayers, whose success story in the book and film, “The Soloist,” made a positive impact in the media about mental health challenges. Read more about award winners here.