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Mississippi To Ensure Deaf Citizen's Right To Jury Participation

Harrison County (Mississippi) entered into a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) ensuring deaf and hard of hearing individuals' right to participate in circuit court programs and services. This came after Mississippi resident Charles Carver was disqualified as a juror in 1992 because he was deaf.

Carver reported for jury duty in 1992 and brought his own interpreters. He was denied the right to serve as a juror because he was deaf. He filed a complaint with the DOJ's Civil Rights Division, pursuant to 28 C.F.R. § 35(f), against the County under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The DOJ is authorized under § 35(f) to determine ADA compliance in such matters and the U.S. Attorney General is authorized under ADA § 12133 to commence enforcement action if noncompliance is found.

Under the ADA's "Alternative Means of Dispute Resolution," § 12212, an agreement was reached to ensure that deaf and hard of hearing individuals have an equal opportunity to benefit from circuit court services and programs and to participate as jurors, witnesses, parties to actions and spectators. The County changed its policy and agreed to provide interpreters in the future at its own expense. Carver was reimbursed, for his self retained interpreters. The agreement was deemed enforceable upon signing and subject to public inspection upon request. See: United States v. Harrison County, Mississippi, Department of Justice Complaint No. 204 41 2. (For further information contact: Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, P.O. Box 66738, Washington, D.C. 20035 6738).

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