Gay Grunfeld of Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld is lead counsel for plaintiffs in Armstrong v. Brown, a long-running class action that seeks to uphold the rights of prisoners with disabilities in California state prisons under the Americans With Disabilities Act.  On September 5, 2012 at an expedited hearing before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, Grunfeld argued that the State remains responsible for parolees with disabilities who are being housed in county jails and that a lower court’s order that the State share information about parolees’ disabilities with the counties should be upheld.

In a Daily Journal story on September 9, Grunfeld refers to a 2010 Ninth Circuit opinion in the case where the court found that the state, “cannot shirk their obligation to plaintiffs under federal law by housing them in facilities operated by the third-party counties.”  She went on to quote from the decision, “The rights of individuals are not so ethereal nor so easily avoided.” 

Pending the Ninth Circuit’s ruling, the State has begun to comply with an earlier order by U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken and sent an email to the counties providing information about the disabilities of individual parolees in their custody.  “Sending the email notifications is really great,” said Grunfeld as quoted in the article.  “They have also sent copies of our ADA compliance plan to jails across the state.”  Judge Wilken has also ordered that the State must send grievance forms to all parolees with disabilities currently being held in county jails by September 15.

Despite these positive steps, Grunfeld notes that the state “continues fighting their obligation to comply with these orders.”