Kentucky to Provide Court Interpreters for Deaf Attorneys

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and the law firm Freking & Betz settled a complaint in federal court against the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the Administrative Office of the Courts alleging their failure to provide qualified sign language interpreters for Teri Mosier, a deaf attorney admitted to practice in Kentucky. The complaint was filed in the United States District Court in Lexington, Kentucky in 2008. As a result of this case and the settlement agreement, the state of Kentucky will now provide interpreters to communicate effectively with deaf attorneys, including Mosier.

The defendants’ former policy stated that they “must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act by providing qualified interpreters for the deaf and hard of hearing.” However, the defendants’ policy further stated that they will “not provide interpreting services for attorneys.” The complaint alleged that the Defendants’ refusal to provide qualified sign language interpreter services when Ms. Mosier represented clients in court proceedings violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The failure of the court to provide qualified interpreter services, to ensure effective communication with, equal opportunity, and equal access to Ms. Mosier, effectively limited Ms. Mosier’s ability to practice law.

“State and local courts are required to provide qualified sign language interpreters or other accommodations to ensure effective communication,” said Bobbie Beth Scoggins, President of the NAD. “The NAD is committed to ensuring that deaf and hard of hearing attorneys have the same rights in the courtroom as their hearing counterparts. Equal justice for all requires effective communication.”