November 22, 2003
Assistant Executive Officer
Superior Court of San Diego County
North County Center
325 South Vista Way
Vista, CA 92083-6627
Third Request for Transcript, (Case No. GIN024734)
Request for Disability Accommodation per Americans With Disabilities
Act, Title II
Dear Mr. Yamasaki:
I am the plaintiff In Pro Per in the aforementioned case. I
am totally disabled from polio. Court administration employees
are required, pursuant to the Americans With Disabilities Act,
Title II, California Rule of Court 989.3, California public
policy and Superior Court local court rules to reasonably accommodate
me and my caregiver, Robert D. Finney.
I have directed this correspondence to you in your capacity
as the Assistant Executive Officer for the North County Center.
I have copied William C. Vickrey, Administrative Director of
the Courts, because he is responsible for monitoring the effectiveness
of judicial governance, in particular the Continuing Judicial
Studies Program and ADA compliance programs. His duties include
detecting and abolishing systemic, embedded customs, policies
and practices that violate the rights of disabled persons as
well as affirmatively implementing protections for disabled
According to a September 19, 2003 press release, Chief Justice
Ronald M. George, made a public statement that the Judicial
Council of California "
approved a set of guidelines
that will help provide fair legal access to justice throughout
Chaired by Chief Justice George, the 27-member
Council approved these principles at a public meeting to guide
courts as they manage their budgets."
One of these principles instructs the courts to "
resources dedicated to eliminating barriers to access for the
most vulnerable (for example,
persons with disabilities
Presiding Judge Richard E. L. Strauss, Supervising Judge Joan
P. Weber and Judge Thomas P. Nugent of the San Diego County
Superior Court have violated and continue to violate this principle.
Requests for Transcript
At my behest,
on October 31, 2003, Dr. Finney, acting on information provided
by several court employees (including Rowena Noriega, Tina Roberts
and Holly Nottingham-Adams), attempted to contact Christine
Ohanneson (CSR6276), Court Reporter, Department 30, to obtain
a transcript of a hearing. On the instructions of a clerk who
assisted him, he used the telephone provided by the Court to
call Ms. Ohanneson to obtain a copy of the transcript.
She did not answer the call. Rather, her voicemail prerecorded
message instructed him to provide contact information and stated
she would return his message. Dr. Finney left a voicemail message,
provided required information, including the case number and
his telephone number, and requested a return call, which Ms.
Ohanneson had promised to provide in her recorded message.
On November 3, 2003, he again telephoned her and provided a
second request for transcript in that she had not responded
to his October 31st request. Additionally, that same day he
called her again, leaving another message, to assure she had
his telephone number. As of the date of this letter, Dr. Finney
has not been contacted by Ms. Ohanneson.
Request for Transcript
is the two-page, On-Line Transcript Request Form, published
by the Kern Country Superior Court, which I obtained from the
internet. (Attachment No. 1) As the San Diego County Superior
Court neither provides on-line request forms nor publishes any
other request form that it discloses, I have adapted and completed
the Kern County's "Online Transcript Request Form"
to make my third request for this transcript.
and Inconsistent Court Information
I have completed
the form by hand to emphasize some of my disability limitations
(e.g., fine motor skills limitations) and the importance of
court officials' implementation of ADA requirements. Disabled
persons may need court personnel to accommodate them by completing
forms. For example, I have witnessed disabled persons whose
limitations caused them to write with their feet. I suggest
that the Court avoid creating any situation that creates humiliation
or discomfort for all disabled persons. It is not a burden for
the court to do so.
Additionally, the Court's failure to provide prominent and easily
readable information for the disabled on its home page is a
barrier to access. The subtext is that the disabled are not
welcome and need not apply. These omissions violate the letter
and spirit of the ADA, indicating a policy and practice to intentionally
violate disabled persons' right to petition the courts.
including three judges, numerous clerks, and your own Executive
Assistant, informed Dr. Finney of the existence of the Court's
ADA Coordinator. Dr. Finney's burdensome research discovered
disturbing information, which we accept as factual unless the
court provides us with verifiable, reliable documentation to
The ADA Coordinator is not disclosed on the Court's website,
although the position and employee is identified on the Court's
intranet, which is not accessible to the public even through
the County law library.
Coordinator also prepares grant applications. As a former federal
contracts officer, I uncovered numerous instances of fraud on
the part of agencies receiving government funds. These agencies
accepted federal funds to establish positions (or add functions)
that would indicate they were implementing government mandates
in good faith. Rather than use the funds to satisfy their contractual
obligations, these agencies defrauded the government by assigning
unrelated duties to the position or implementing the mandated
function in name only.
Whether or not the Superior Court receives money to fund the
ADA Coordinator position, the information would be expected
to be reflected in proactive employees taking the initiative
to help disabled persons and their caregivers. The ADA Coordinator
would be prominently disclosed with ease of contact to implement
the law with full transparency, including ADA related information
which would be prominently displayed on the Court's website
homepage in addition to providing ease of navigation and user-friendly
tools such as forms that could be completed on-line and submitted
from the site, itself.
Based on our experience and research, the San Diego Superior
Court does none of these things.
Additionally, to test the truth of the efficacy of Presiding
Judge Richard E.L. Strauss' recommendation to use a "public
law library" as a primary remedy (Attachment No. 4), Dr.
Finney contacted the San Diego County Public Law Library. He
requested a librarian's assistance to double check his own research
regarding the Court's website for references to disability,
ADA law, ADA Coordinator, and the process to obtain a transcript.
Dr. Finney's investigation proved to be valid. The librarian
was not able to identify the references and in fact complained
about how poorly designed and user unfriendly the website is.
Additionally, Judge Strauss' statement that "each law school
in town has a law library" was of no use in that these
libraries function to meet the needs of law students enrolled
in their respective programs.
Request Procedure Violation
is my Notice to the Court of Intent to file a Petition for Writ
of Mandate. The Notice states that "Enclosed is a check
in the amount of $50.00 to be applied to the costs to produce
the requested record.". (Attachment No. 2, p. 2, lines
6-7) As none of the Court employees would accept the check due
to purported custom and practice, this statement is inaccurate.
However, the San Diego Superior Court's own website states in
"Appeals, FAQs" as follows:
for reporter's transcripts may be deposited with the appeals
clerk or directly with the court reporter."
meaning of this statement advises citizens that the clerk should
have accepted the deposit payment that was attached to the Notice.
Additionally, after Dr. Finney obtained the name of Ms. Ohanneson
(Attachment No. 3), called her and reached her recorded message,
he returned to the records section and asked the clerk if he
could simply take the check to Ms. Ohanneson for efficiency
and security purposes. The clerk informed him that court reporters
are unavailable for these contacts. To implement the Court's
own policy, the clerk should have directed Dr. Finney to Ms.
Ohanneson office location, as is the practice and custom of
delivering documents to a judge's clerk and as Dr. Finney has
done, himself, in the past. The clerk could have also accepted
the check and provided it to Ms. Ohanneson, herself, per the
above citation. Dr. Finney's experience contradicts both of
the Court's website express directions regarding payment of
fees, i.e., deposited with the clerk or with the court reporter.
31, 2003, I served the Court with my Notice of Intent to file
my Petition. The Court's failure to prominently and clearly
disclose its procedures, practices and customs, in addition
to Ms. Ohanneson's failure to respond to Dr. Finney's messages,
will have delayed this filing of my Petition with the Court
of Appeals for over a month.
of ADA, Title II
I am a former
federal investigator, whose duties included monitoring contract
compliance with federal anti-discrimination and equal opportunity
laws. I suggest that you adopt Kern County Court's on-line transcript
request form and prominently post the name(s) and contact information
for ADA Coordinator assistance on the Court's home page to reasonably
accommodate disabled litigants and attorneys. In addition, full
disclosure of all court services and programs should be displayed
with suggested accommodations. The ADA prohibits secret criteria
and other barriers that restrict access to reasonable accommodations
by disabled persons.
On September 12, 2003 while seated in the Court's Business Office
row of chairs along the wall at the entrance of the room, I
witnessed a man with crutches and a leg cast standing in a line
for approximately 10 minutes until he was summoned to the counter
by a clerk. No signage whatsoever was posted to proactively
inform him and all disabled persons of their rights to reasonable
accommodations under ADA, Title II. He stood at the counter
attempting to balance himself, while interacting with the clerk
to conduct business for an additional 11 minutes. The clerk
did not offer him any accommodation.
He was constantly shifting to balance himself, to take notes
and to show the clerk his papers. From personal experience,
such situations extremely distress and humiliate disabled persons
who are stigmatized and marginalized. Disabled persons are put
at risk of further injury, when entities and their agents ignore
ADA and other laws. The Court's indifference, lack of initiative
and failure to be proactive and sensitive in implementing ADA
and other requirements, adversely affect disabled citizens'
ability to exercise their rights, in my case to petition the
court to enforce my Constitutional rights.
Council proclamations, procedures, committees and
- a decade
of sententious studies and reports regarding access and
fairness in the courts, and
Judge Strauss' membership on the Judicial Council, this Court
has created an intentionally hostile environment for disabled
litigants and attorneys in violation of their rights under
the ADA, Cal. Rule of Court 989.3, California public policy,
and San Diego County local court rules.
prohibits coercion and retaliation by the Court against litigants
who attempt to exercise their rights under the Act. However,
concerted coercion and retaliation, that would chill the exercise
of rights by persons of ordinary firmness, have been personally
directed toward me by three judges and Ms. Ohanneson.
Especially disconcerting is the Presiding Judge's refusal and
express denial of his legal duty to accept and investigate or
to cause appropriate authorities to
investigate complaints of bias and prejudice submitted to him
by disabled persons, regarding judges' misconduct. His violation
of local court rules, California Rule of Court 989.3, California
public policy and federal law supports a finding of futility,
regarding access to this Court's services by disabled persons.
A California Appeals Court has defined the circumstances under
which any citizen's access to a government agency's services
may be determined to be futile. (Economic Empowerment Foundation
v. Quackenbush (1997)57 Cal.App.4th 677, 67 Cal.Rptr.2d 323)
cases falling within the futility exception
as where the agency:"
has no procedure for dealing with
"declined to take jurisdiction over the
"already rejected the claim
"announced its position on the claim
"issued rulings which would preclude the
"refused to accept the claim for filing
"or indicated that it would not consider
the claimant's evidence
"[57 Cal.App.4th 692]
actions are inconsistent with Judicial Council policies on access
and fairness. For example, the identity of the Court's ADA Coordinator
and her duties are not disclosed to the public on the internet,
but are disclosed to Court personnel through its "intranet,"
which the public, as a whole, and the disabled, as an important
segment of that whole, cannot access.
In January, 1997, the Judicial Council's subcommittee on Access
for Persons with Disabilities conducted a survey of Court Users,
Attorneys and Court personnel. The Survey's Qualitative Interview
with a member of the San Diego Superior Court's Committee for
Persons with Disabilities in San Diego County elicited a troubling
"Unfortunately the old way of doing things continues. No
deep thinking/attention has been done beyond the superficial
physical access issue. Locally, the court administration hasn't
given such matters deep thought."
Evidently, the present San Diego Superior Court's "deep
thought" resulted in abolishing this Committee. I have
been unable to find any published reference to its existence
(present or past), and Judge Strauss did not inform me of its
existence or its recommendations in his correspondence dated
September 18, 2003.
In 2002, The California Commission on Judicial Performance published
17 private discipline advisory letter summaries. The commission
explained that "An advisory letter is useful when there
is an appearance of impropriety." One disciplinary category
was identified as "Administrative Malfeasance" wherein
"judges are required to diligently discharge their administrative
responsibilities. One advisory letter summary stated:
judge failed to take any action when information revealing
potential serious wrongdoing by a judicial colleague was before
these extraordinary circumstances, I request an immediate remedy
to obtain a copy of the aforementioned transcript that I intend
to use in filing my Petition. Please contact Dr. Finney no later
than COB December 3, 2003 to advise him of the status of this
request, including a solution to obtain a copy of the transcript.
Thank you for your prompt attention.
Jacquelyn Finney, Plaintiff
Case No. GIN024734
(1) Request for Transcript (Kern County Superior Court Form
(2) Notice of Intent to File Petition for Writ of Mandate
(3) Court Record SUPCT CIV-40(New 12-95) identifying C. Ohanneson
as the court reporter 8/19/2003 at 10:40am hearing. Includes
records' clerk's handwritten note identifying Christine Ohanneson
with her telephone number.
(4) September 18, 2003, Richard E.L. Strauss correspondence
to Jacquelyn Finney.
Cc: William C. Vickrey, Administrative Director of the Courts