New Mexico: settlement agreement over failure to provide sign-language interpreter

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sat Aug 11 13:51:44 UTC 2007

 New Mexico Business Weekly - August 10, 2007

New Mexico Business Weekly - 12:44 PM MDT Friday, August 10, 2007

The Justice Department has entered into a settlement agreement with
Albuquerque attorney Joseph David Camacho that resolves a complaint
filed with the department by the National Association of the Deaf on
behalf of Carolyn Tanaka, who is deaf and uses sign language for

The complaint alleged that Camacho refused to secure a qualified sign
language interpreter when necessary to assist Tanaka in a lawsuit in
which he was her attorney; that he withdrew from the private case
leaving her without counsel; and that the case was dismissed allegedly
due to her failure to respond to discovery. Camacho allegedly
attempted to communicate with his client through written notes,
e-mails and sign language interpretation by her nine-year old son.

Under the agreement, the local law office will adopt and enforce a
policy on effective communication with clients and their companions
who are deaf or hard of hearing, by providing interpreters and other
auxiliary aids free of charge.

Camacho also agreed to pay the former client $1,000 in compensatory damages.

"Effective communication is particularly critical in the legal
setting," said Larry Gomez, acting U.S. attorney for the District of
New Mexico. "We are committed to ensuring that lawyers comply with the
[American's with Disabilities Act's] requirements and that individuals
with disabilities or their families are not subjected to unequal
treatment because of an inability to communicate."

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