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Proposed amendments to Rules of General Practice and Judicial Administration Rule 2.540 (Requests For Accommodations by Persons with Disabilities)

Notices

The Rules of General Practice and Judicial Administration Committee, in compliance with Florida Rule of General Application and Judicial Administration 2.140(b)(2), invite comments on proposed Rule 2.140 (Amending Rules of Court). Interested persons have until June 28, to submit any comments, electronically, to Kristin Ann Norse, chair of the Rules of General Practice and Judicial Administration Committee, at [email protected], and to Bar attorney liaison, Kelly Smith, at [email protected].

The amendments an amendment to change “court personnel” to “ADA-coordinator.”

 

RULE 2.540.                        REQUESTS FOR ACCOMMODATIONS BY PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

(a)          Duties of Court. Qualified individuals with a disability will be provided, at the court’s expense, with accommodations, reasonable modifications to rules, policies, or practices, or the provision of auxiliary aids and services, in order to participate in programs or activities provided by the courts of this state. The court may deny a request only in accordance with subdivision (e).

(b)          Definitions. The definitions encompassed in Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (Pub. L. 110-325, 122 Stat. 355 (2008)), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. and its implementing regulations, 28 C.F.R. § 35.101 et seq., are incorporated into this rule.

(c)           Notice Requirement.

(1)          All notices of court proceedings to be held in a public facility, and all process compelling appearance at suchcourt proceedings, shallmust include the following statement in bold face, 14-point Times New Roman or CourierBookman Old Style or Arial font:

“If you are a person with a disability who needs any accommodation in order to participate in this proceeding, you are entitled, at no cost to you, to the provision of certain assistance. Please contact [identify applicable court personnel by nameADA Coordinator, applicable address, and applicable telephone number] at least 7 days before your scheduled court appearance, or immediately upon receiving this notification if the time before the scheduled appearance is less than 7 days; if you are hearing or voice impaired, call 711.”

(2)          Each trial and appellate court shallmust post on its respective website and in each court facility the procedures for obtaining an accommodation as well asand the grievance procedure adopted by that court.

(d)          Process for Requesting Accommodations. The process for requesting accommodations is as follows:.

(1)          Requests for accommodations under this rule may be presented on a form approved or substantially similar to one approved by the Office of the State Courts Administrator, in another written format, or orally. Requests must be forwarded to the ADA coordinator, or designee, within the time frame provided in subdivision (d)(3).

(2)          Requests for accommodations must include a description of the accommodation sought, along with a statement of the impairment that necessitates the accommodation and the duration that the accommodation is to be provided. Requests for accommodation shallmust not include any information regarding the merits of the case.

(3)          If applicable to a court proceeding, the ADA coordinator, or designee, shallmust advise the judge or the judge’s staff of the request and proposed accommodation. The court, in its discretion, may require the individual with a disability to provide additional information about the impairment if the proposed accommodation may present a fundamental alteration in the court proceeding.

(4)          Requests for accommodations must be made at least 7 days before the scheduled court appearance, or immediately upon receiving notification if the time before the scheduled court appearance is less than 7 days.  The court may, in its discretion, waive this requirement.

(e)          Response to Accommodation Request. The court must respond to a request for accommodation as follows:.

(1)          The court must consider, but is not limited by, the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 in determining whether to provide an accommodation or an appropriate alternative accommodation.

(2)          The court must inform the individual with a disability of the following:

(A)          That the request for accommodation is granted or denied, in whole or in part, and if the request for accommodation is denied, the reason thereforfor the denial; or that an alternative accommodation is granted;

(B)          The nature of the accommodation to be provided, if any; and

(C)          The duration of the accommodation to be provided.

If the request for accommodation is granted in its entirety, the court shallmust respond to the individual with a disability by any appropriate method.  If the request is denied or granted only in part, or if an alternative accommodation is granted, the court must respond to the individual with a disability in writing, as may be appropriate, and if applicable, in an alternative format.

(3)          If the court determines that a person is a qualified person with a disability and an accommodation is needed, a request for accommodation may be denied only when the court determines that the requested accommodation would create an undue financial or administrative burden on the court or would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program, or activity.

(f)           Grievance Procedure.

(1)          Each judicial circuit and appellate court shallmust establish and publish grievance procedures that allow for the resolution of complaints. Those procedures may be used by anyone who wishes to file a complaint alleging discrimination on the basis of disability in the provision of services, activities, programs, or benefits by the Florida State Courts System.

(2)          If suchthe grievance involves a matter that may affect the orderly administration of justice, it is within the discretion of the presiding judge tomay stay the proceeding and seek expedited resolution of the grievance.

(g)        Use of Service Animals.

(1)        “Service animals” means any dog or miniature horse that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. This definition excludes animals that provide crime deterrence or emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship.

(2)        The court shallmust allow the use of a service animal by an individual with a disability in facilities of the courts and when participating in all programs or activities provided by the courts, as provided in and subject to the requirements of the ADA and Florida law.

(3)        Subject to the requirements of the ADA, an individual seeking to use a service animal in a scheduled court appearance shouldmust notify the court in advance pursuant tounder the procedures in subdivision (d). The failure to give advance notification shalldoes not preclude the use of a service animal where otherwise permissible under this rule.

(h)        Use of Emotional Support Animals.

(1)        “Emotional support animal” means a companion animal that provides needed emotional support, well-being, or comfort to an individual in the forms of affection and companionship. Emotional support animals are not trained to do any specific work or tasks for the benefit of an individual.

(2)        The court may permit an individual the use of and accompaniment of an emotional support animal when participating in programs, services, or activities provided by the courts of this state.

(3)        An individual seeking to use an emotional support animal in a scheduled court appearance must notify the court in advance pursuant tounder the procedures in subdivision (d).

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