All four of the Barbara McDowell Foundation's 2021 grantees were contacted in July in accordance with the Foundation’s requirements and reported with respect to the progress of their case through the third quarter of their grant cycle. Their reports appear below.
In addition to reporting on their progress, each grantee also submitted third quarter time sheets for their case work. All were deemed to be meeting the requirements of their grants. The average dollar value in attorney time spent by each grantee on their respective cases has exceeded $79,000 for the grant year to date.
As noted in our previous report, the case was dismissed without prejudice. This was because, as a result of this case, and those brought by other organizations, President Biden issued an Executive Order rescinding both Executive Order 13880 of July 11, 2019 (Collecting Information About Citizenship Status in Connection with the Decennial Census) and the Presidential Memorandum of July 21, 2020 (Excluding Illegal Aliens from the Apportionment Base Following the 2020 Census). The Census Bureau accordingly terminated producing a Post-2020 Census CVAP Special Tabulation. Public representations and assurances have been made that the Census Bureau has adopted appropriate measures during post data collection processing to ensure the data quality of the census count. The Census Bureau is on track to release redistricting data by August 16, 2021, in “legacy” format and on September 30, 2021, in a more user-friendly format.
The Parties in their grant-funded case, Hernandez et. al. v. New York State Board of Elections et. al., began meaningful settlement discussions in December 2020. The Parties met twice monthly through April 2021 to discuss terms and resolution. After collectively modifying a settlement agreement draft, Defendants began consulting with the agency principals as part of the final approval process. Defendants notified Plaintiffs by email on June 2, 2021, that this process would take time. Parties will meet on July 16, 2021, to discuss the status of Defendants’ agreement approval process. A settlement agreement will be finalized over the next few months. In the interim, the County Board of Elections across the state provided an option to vote by accessible absentee ballot in the June 2021 Primary Election. The same system will be in place for the November 2021 General Election.
Access to voting is under siege across the country. Ensuring New York expands voting rights to voters with disabilities is imperative. Through this lawsuit, DRNY and co-Plaintiffs addressed the importance of providing all voters, including voters with disabilities, the right to a private and independent vote. This lawsuit has been a significant part of a movement to combat policies and laws that disenfranchise disabled voters across the country. Because of this lawsuit, 3,643 voters with print disabilities were able to request an accessible absentee ballot in 2020, and 1,549 voters with print disabilities submitted an accessible absentee ballot during the November 2020 General Election.
On May 17, 2021, the Aitkin County court issued a brief order on both our and the defendant's lengthy motions for summary judgement. These motions had been briefed and heard mid-February, followed by a post-hearing brief on March 2nd. The court ruled that the question on whether the pharmacists refused to dispense the emergency contraception is both material and in dispute. Thus, Gender Justice’s case will be moving forward to trial. Should the court agree with this set of facts then it will be affirmed that denial of contraception is per se sex discrimination under the Minnesota Human Rights Act. Gender Justice will be spending the final quarter of the grant period preparing for trial, which is scheduled for January 18, 2022.
The National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) and co-counsel filed Lucas R. v. Azar in November 2018 to expand procedural protections for the most vulnerable children in federal immigration custody. The class action lawsuit includes five certified classes of children including: (1) children who are not promptly released to sponsors; (2) children that get stepped up to more restrictive facilities; (3) children who are administered psychotropic medications; (4) children whose lawyers are obstructed from comprehensive representation; and (5) children with disabilities. In December 2020, the Court issued an oral tentative ruling on Plaintiffs’ motion for summary adjudication (which addressed three of the five classes’ claims in the case) that was favorable to Plaintiffs.
During the third quarter of the grant period, NCYL and their co-counsel conducted numerous and lengthy negotiations with Defendants to attempt to settle all of their claims, three of which are subject to the Court’s decision on Plaintiffs’ motion for summary adjudication and two of which are scheduled for trial. After many months of negotiations, in May 2021, the parties submitted a joint status report and asked the Court to enter its order on Plaintiffs’ motion for summary adjudication, which will address claims brought on behalf of: (1) children who are not promptly released to sponsors; (2) children that get stepped up to more restrictive facilities; and (3) children whose lawyers are obstructed from comprehensive representation. At the Court’s request, the parties submitted another joint status report at the end of June 2021, in which they once again asked the Court to issue its order on Plaintiffs’ motion for summary adjudication. The parties anticipate the Court will issue its order by the end of July 2021, along with a new trial date for the remaining two claims that will be sometime in 2022. The parties will then prepare for trial and continue negotiating the remaining two claims on behalf of children with disabilities and children who are administered psychotropic medications.