Attorneys/Judiciary/Forensics

Table of Contents


American Bar Association - FASD Legal Issues Web Site

Provides resources for attorneys about how to work with clients that have Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, or FASD.

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Barrier Free Justice Program – King County District Attorney’s Office

Barrier Free Justice was launched at the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office in 2000. Considering issues specific to each woman’s psychiatric, physical, or cognitive disability, this project assists with managing the barriers that arise when individuals from this community navigate the criminal justice system. A network of involved social workers, case managers, and attorneys provide guidance, support, and concrete services to facilitate the victims’ steps toward safety.

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Crimes against Persons with Disabilities: A Practical Guide to Reporting, Investigation and Prosecution

The Building Partnerships initiative in partnership with Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE), wrote a book entitled, Crimes Against Persons with Disabilities: A Practical Guide to Reporting, Investigation and Prosecution. The book includes such topics as the prevalence of violence against persons with disabilities, introduction to the state’s adult protective service and disability agencies, how Massachusetts is reporting, investigating and prosecuting crimes committed against persons with disabilities, the operations of the multidisciplinary approach used by the Building Partnerships initiative, the success of the initiative, criminal statutes as they apply to persons with disabilities, protective orders, practical tips for Guardian ad litem and guardians, access warrants and access to records. MCLE distributed the book to every courthouse in Massachusetts.

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Crime Victims with Disabilities: What the Prosecutor Needs to Know About Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation, Traumatic Brain Injury

Created by the California District Attorneys Association under a grant from the Office for Victims of Crime, Department of Justice. No cost to law enforcement and prosecutors. (NOTE: While mental retardation is used in the title of this publication, it is no longer used to describe the condition. The term of use is intellectual and or developmental disability or I/DD).

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Disability Justice Project - "Independence to Inclusion"

This project created a Disability Justice website to deliver Continuing Legal Education courses for law school students. University of St. Thomas Professor Elizabeth Schiltz guided the legal writing on the website to assure integrity. The website features 72 video clips from nine legal experts. It also includes 30 historical videos featuring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Blackmun, U.S. District Judge Raymond Broderick and U.S. District Judge Frank Johnson. More than a dozen cases are described, Constitutional rights are explained, and there are exhibit photos from famous lawsuits such as Welsch, Willowbrook, and Pennhurst. The website covers such issues as supporting crime victims with disabilities, right to habilitation, right to education, and the right to live in the most integrated setting.

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FASD and Justice Web Site (Canada)

This site is designed for justice system professionals and others who want to understand more about FASD. It provides information and resources about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), including background information, case law, legal resources and strategies for effective intervention.

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FASD and the Criminal Justice System

This helpful fact sheet developed by SAMHSA’s Center for Excellence on FASD, says “Youth with an FASD were born with brain damage that can make it difficult for them to stay out of trouble with the law. They do not know how to deal with police, attorneys, judges, social workers, psychiatrists, corrections and probation officers, and others they may encounter.”

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Fetal Alcohol Assessment Experts

FASD Experts is a group of mental health experts that specialize in the forensic assessment of persons suspected of having a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). The website informs legal and medical professionals about the generally accepted standard of care in FASD assessment, which in the forensic context includes validated procedures and empirically grounded opinions.

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Mental Competency—Best Practices Model and website

The purpose of the Mental Competency—Best Practices Model is to present a body of practices deemed to be most effective and efficient for handling mental incompetency issues in the criminal justice and mental health systems. The practices are designed to complement one another to serve both the interests of fairness and of sound judicial administration.

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O.P.E.N. Court Video Series and Resource Guide

The “O.P.E.N. Court – Orienting Young People with Exceptional Needs about Court” website provides videos for youth with disabilities and a resource guide for school personnel, families, attorneys, juvenile court personnel, and social-service professionals to engage in best practices to help young people gain the skills to navigate the process. A series of videos follow Henry, a young man with autism, who finds himself navigating the juvenile justice system. The materials are designed to help address challenges often faced by young people with intellectual or developmental disabilities who become involved in court.

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Opening the Door: Justice for Defendants with Mental Retardation

This guidebook was developed and reviewed by experts in the field, and provides tips and a solid understanding for attorneys and other interested advocates about how to provide an effective defense for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (NOTE: While mental retardation is used in the title of this publication, it is no longer used to describe the condition. The term of use is intellectual and or developmental disability or I/DD).

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Prosecutor Sexual Assault Protocol: Resource Guide for Drafting or Revising Tribal Prosecutor Protocols on Responding to Sexual Assault

Tribal Law and Policy Institute and Southwest Center for Law and Policy developed this 67 page guide for tribal prosecution of sexual assault including information on responding to tribal victims with disabilities.

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Protocol for Prosecutors

The purpose of this protocol is to effectively guide prosecutors in responding to domestic violence and sexual assault victims with disabilities through model guidelines, pretrial examples, and legal considerations. Implementation of the protocol will allow for successful partnering with law enforcement, advocates, and others in the criminal justice system in the response to victims with disabilities, and also ensure that the response follows legal mandates as well as current best practices. Prosecutor response is critical to assuring that victims with disabilities have equal access to the criminal justice system in a compassionate, proactive, individualized manner. Note: This is specific to Illinois, but useful as a model to other states.

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Supporting People with Disabilities: Advocacy Strategies for Legal Advocates

Provided by Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, this pamphlet is designed for legal advocates working with people who have one or more disabilities and who have experienced sexual assault. Sections include advocacy tips, information and referrals, criminal justice strategies, and more.

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The Trouble with Protecting the Vulnerable: Proposals to Prevent Developmentally Disabled Individuals from Giving Involuntary Waivers and False Confessions

Involuntary waivers and false confessions plague individuals with intellectual disabilities in our criminal justice system. This article discusses warning signs in interrogations and promising practices for ensuring that rights are protected during an interrogation.

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The Vermont Communication Support Project

The project provided by Disability Rights Vermont assists the person with a disability in communicating with the judge, court staff, attorney, or a state agency. The mission of the Vermont Communication Support Project (VCSP) is to promote meaningful participation of individuals with communication deficits in judicial and administrative proceedings that significantly impact their lives. The VCSP makes available, supervises and supports a trained cadre of Communication Support Specialists qualified and accepted by Vermont’s judiciary and administrative agencies.

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