12 Aug Victory for Iris Eytan in Jail Wait Litigation
STATE SETTLES CIVIL RIGHTS CASE AGREEING TO PAY FOR AN INDEPENDENT CONSULTANT AFTER STATE FABRICATED DATA IN WHICH PRETRIAL DETAINEES WITH MENTAL ILLNESS WERE ONCE AGAIN LANGUISHING IN JAILS WAITING FOR COURT-ORDERED COMPETENCY EVALUATIONS AND RESTORATIVE TREATMENT
Landmark Ten-Year Agreement Protecting Persons with Mental Illness Settles after Action was Re-opened Due to State’s Fabricating Data Allegedly Violating the U.S. Constitution
Lengthy Delays Resolved with an Agreement for an Independent Consultant
To read/view the PDF version, click here.
DENVER, August 2, 2016 — The Colorado Department of Human Services (the “Department”) and the non-profit Disability Law Center (the “DLC”) settled the re-opening of a 2012 federal lawsuit brought by the DLC to address chronic delays in the system for providing court-ordered competency evaluations and restorative treatment to pre-trial detainees. The federal lawsuit was re-opened by Federal Magistrate Nina Wang in December 2015, after the DLC filed a motion to enforce the settlement agreement alleging the State fabricated the monthly data which falsely indicated that it was meeting its agreed upon timelines to evaluate and treat pre-trial detainees with mental illness for competency.
The motion alleged that the State’s data did not reveal that pre-trial detainees in Colorado were once again suffering unconstitutional delays, in some cases lasting as long as six months, in receiving evaluations and treatment that would enable them to participate in their criminal proceedings.
The parties moved to dismiss the motion to re-open the settlement agreement and request for sanctions based upon reaching an amended and very comprehensive settlement agreement on July 29, 2016.
The amended agreement contains many new provisions, but the most significant is the following:
• The Department is required to pay for an Independent Consultant for the duration of the agreement. The Independent Consultant is an individual jointly agreed upon by the parties, who is experienced in the management and oversight of a state’s mental health system. The Independent Consultant will oversee the implementation of the agreement, and ensure compliance, data reporting, and meet with the parties on a quarterly basis.
• Once again, the parties agreed that the United States District Court for the District of Colorado would retain jurisdiction to enforce the Agreement. In the event the Department fails to meet its obligations, the federal court can hold the Department in contempt.
• The parties have agreed to work together to and meet quarterly with the Independent Consultant to help ensure timely evaluation and treatment of the mentally ill pretrial detainees.
“In our view, the Department has been struggling with this problem for years. We hoped they would not have faltered on their obligations, and we don’t know why they fabricated the data, but we are especially gratified to have an independent consultant on board to ensure that persons with mental illness will not go without timely competency evaluations and restorative treatment” said attorney Iris Eytan, adding that, “We are pleased that the Department acknowledged that for the Plaintiff’s trust to be repaired, an Independent Consultant was necessary, and we look forward to working with the State and the Independent Consultant for years to come. ”