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Effective Communication Denied by Denver and Jefferson County Sheriffs

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Jordan v. Shrader, 18-cv-1225-MSK-NYW

Issues

CCDC filed suit against the Sheriff for the City and County of Denver, the City and County of Denver, and the Sheriff for Jefferson County, on May 18, 2018.

The lawsuit alleges a failure of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the Denver Sheriff’s Office, and the City & County of Denver to provide sign language interpreters for two individuals who are deaf. The two Plaintiffs in this case are Ruthie Jordan and Mary Patricia Graham-Kelly. Both individuals are deaf and communicate with American Sign Language.

In May 2016, Ruthie Jordan was taken into custody by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies and transported to the Jefferson County Jail. She was not provided a sign language interpreter by the deputies who arrested her. She had to plead with them, using handwritten notes, to get an interpreter. The law enforcement agents knew Ms. Jordan was deaf prior to arriving and they did not take appropriate steps to provide a sign language interpreter. They handcuffed her behind her back when they arrested her so she could not even write notes. She was not provided with an interpreter for her booking and bail hearing.

Mary Patricia Graham-Kelly was inside of her home the evening of January 1, 2017, when three Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies arrived. Ms. Graham-Kelly’s daughter (who is hearing) called 911 and told the operator that Ms. Graham-Kelly is deaf. The deputies who arrived at Ms. Graham-Kelly’s home asked her daughter to interpret. Department of Justice regulations prohibit relying on a family member to interpret under these circumstances. In addition, Ms. Graham-Kelly made every effort to inform the deputies that she did not want her daughter to interpret. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office did not provide her with a sign language interpreter during her booking or during her incarceration.

Status

Defendants filed a joint motion to dismiss which the court denied. This case is currently in discovery.

The Defendants sought private settlement conferences and mediation. The Parties spent one day in a settlement conference with the Denver Defendants and that entire day and private mediation with the Jefferson County Sheriff.

Two days after the daylong settlement conference with the Denver Defendants ( who have been sued in two prior lawsuits for exactly the same failures to provide individuals who are deaf with sign language interpreters and other appropriate auxiliary aids and services as is required under the ADA, and they are currently operating under a Settlement Agreement with the DOJ), the Denver Defendants sent the Plaintiff involved in that matter and Offer of Judgment. Plaintiff Jordan accepted that Offer of Judgment. See documents below. Final Judgment was entered by the Clerk on August 29, 2019, against the Denver Defendants, making this the third time a judgment has been entered against the Denver Sheriff and/or the City and County of Denver for not providing appropriate auxiliary aids and services and effective communication to individuals who are deaf. As a result of the Final Judgment, Plaintiff Ruthie Jordan will receive $10,000 in damages, and attorneys fees and costs will be awarded under the federal and state statutes at issue.

Plaintiffs and the Jefferson County Sheriff remain in settlement negotiations as of 8/28/19.

Available Document


Media Coverage


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