July 21, 2024

Hearing Impaired Lawyer’s Lawsuit Over Jury Duty Moves Forward

Hearing Impaired Lawyer’s Lawsuit Over Jury Duty Moves Forward

A Denver lawyer excused from jury responsibility in excess of his listening to impairment can move forward with his lawsuit in opposition to the Denver County Court docket. In a ruling from Denver District Courtroom choose Mark T. Bailey a motion to dismiss the circumstance from the Denver Town Attorney’s Place of work, symbolizing the County Courtroom was denied. 



Spencer Kontnik is a lawyer with the organization Kontnik Cohen. He is deaf in a person ear and impaired in the other and wears a hearing help. Kontnik bought the backing of the Colorado Cross Incapacity Coalition in submitting match from the courtroom as well as the Denver District Legal professional and the General public Defender’s Business just after making an attempt to serve jury obligation in 2021. 

“I test jury trials, I would really like to have the standpoint of sitting on a jury and comprehending you know what it’s like to be in a deliberation room with a bunch of other jurors,” reported Kontnik.

He confirmed up with an interpreter who had what is recognised as a CART technique, an acronym for, “Conversation Obtain Actual-time Translation.” It is identical to a shut captioning system so people who are hearing impaired can follow along as tricky to listen to courtroom activities take place. 



But soon after a couple minutes, the interpreter came out and explained to him he experienced been excused, that they experienced hoped to conclude the demo in a day and assumed his incapacity could possibly be a challenge. 

The choose in the circumstance, Judith Smith indicated that the prosecution and defense thought it would be “challenging for him.” The courtroom did not speak to Kontnik about irrespective of whether he thought his incapacity may possibly have an affect on his ability to abide by the trial. 

“The notion that that would just gradual items down and make it not possible to end in a working day is just not genuine,” reported Kontnik. “I went from becoming puzzled to variety of like a minimal humiliated simply because I’m in entrance of everybody and going for walks out of the courtroom, to then becoming just like, extremely indignant.”

Courts do have court docket reporters composing down almost everything the court docket suggests. They accommodate folks with hearing problems these types of as defendants and lawyers like Kontnik, who has been in jury trials. 

“If you are likely to strike me simply because I’m an attorney I get that. But the strategy that they had been going to strike me for the reason that I have a hearing impairment, that’s what definitely trapped with me and definitely harm.”



In court docket filings, a letter from Judge Smith to presiding Judge Theresa Spahn, choose Smith wrote, “When a defendant has requested to strike a juror and the prosecution agrees, the decide normally honors that stipulation so very long as it is not unconstitutional,” then went on to reveal:

“As a result, my emphasis was only on whether the parties’ stipulation was unconstitutional underneath Batson v. Kentucky, 476 u. s. 79 (1986) and J.E. B. V Alabama ex rel. T. B., 114 S. Ct. 1419 (1994). These situations held that placing potential jurors based on race or gender is unconstitutional. Colorado’s Court of Appeals held that hanging a individual for any other cause, even a incapacity protected by the ADA, is not. Donelson v. Fritz (Colo. Ct. App. 2002)”

Kontnik settled with both equally the District Legal professional and the Public Defender, who agreed to perform coaching on the problem and compensated a smaller amount, the DA’s place of work $6250 which Kontnik states he sent on two non-earnings, The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Bar Association and Denver Just after 2030. 

But the courtroom carries on to go after the situation. Kontnik states he will move ahead to the following techniques. 

“The total strategy is that you want a jury of your friends and if you do not have disabled jurors on the jury, then you are not receiving a jury of your peers.”