CREEC, Disability Rights Organizations File Cake Amicus!

CREEC joined nine other disability rights organizations in filing an amicus brief in the Supreme Court in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, in support of the gay couple turned away from a Colorado bakery based on the owner’s prejudice.  The Colorado Court of Appeals held in favor of the couple, recognizing that the baker violated their rights under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (“CADA”), and the Colorado Supreme Court declined to review.  The case is currently before the United States Supreme Court on the baker’s argument that it violates his first amendment rights of free exercise and free expression to force him to make a cake that would be used in a gay wedding.  The statute at issue — CADA  — prohibits discrimination in public accommodations based on disability as well as sexual orientation and a number of other protected classes; Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act also prohibits disability discrimination in public accommodations. CREEC and other organizations filed their amicus brief to caution the Court that recognizing personal scruples exceptions — including free exercise or free expression — to the general requirement that public accommodations serve everyone without discrimination could significantly jeopardize enforcement of Title III and the protections it affords people with disabilities to fully participate in our nation’s economic and commercial life. CREEC strongly urges the Supreme Court to affirm the Colorado Court of Appeals and reaffirm our commitment that American businesses are #OPENTOALL. We would also like to thank the rockstars at Rosen, Bien, Galvan and Grunfeld who wrote the brief, and our fellow amici for the terrific discussions the brief engendered. 16-111, AC...

CREEC, DU Civil Rights Clinic are Finalists for Public Justice’s Trial Lawyer of the Year!

We are very excited to announce that a team of lawyers and (then) law students from CREEC and the University of Denver Sturm College of Law’s Civil Rights Clinic (CRC) is one of four national finalists for the Trial Lawyer of the Year award presented by Public Justice. We have been nominated for our work on the Anderson and Decoteau cases. Public Justice — a nonprofit organization that pursues high-impact lawsuits to combat social and economic injustice, protect the Earth’s sustainability and challenge predatory corporate conduct and government abuses — presents its Trial Lawyer of the Year Award to the attorney(s) who made the greatest contribution to the public interest within the past year by trying or settling a precedent-setting, socially significant case. CREEC also wants to congratulate the other three finalist teams, especially our good friends at Schneider, Wallace, Cotrell, Konecky, Wotkyns, LLP; Goldstein Borgen Dardarian & Ho; Legal Aid at Work; and the Disability Rights Legal Center for their great work on the Los Angeles sidewalk case, Willits v. Los Angeles.  Possibly the coolest thing to come from this nomination will be the chance to hang out with these rockstars in Boston at the Public Justice gala! CREEC and the CRC brought the Anderson and Decoteau cases on behalf of men incarcerated in the Colorado State Penitentiary (CSP) who had been denied outdoor exercise for years or even decades. These men, who were locked in 90 square foot cells for 23 hours a day, were only permitted to exercise in an empty cell similar to the ones they live in with a narrow slit of a window and a pull-up bar....

Welcome Liz Jordan, our first CREEC Fellow!

Welcome, Liz! CREEC is very excited to welcome our new Fellow, Elizabeth (Liz) Jordan! Liz is CREEC’s first annual Fellow and we are thrilled that she will be utilizing her extensive human rights experience to advance CREEC’s mission. After graduating from Yale with a BA in Political Science and Latin American Studies, Liz conducted human rights research in Madrid, Spain as a Fulbright Scholar. She graduated from New York University School of Law in 2013 as an Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Fellow. While in law school she participated in numerous internships and clerkships which focused on human and civil rights. As a Law Clerk for Orleans Public Defenders, she assisted public defenders in all aspects of their cases including trial preparations and investigations. As a Hays Fellow Law Intern, she drafted memoranda regarding imprisonment of indigent criminal defendants for non-payment of fines, as well as racial profiling in schools for the ACLU Racial Justice Program. She also conducted group orientation in English and Spanish for detained immigrants for the Legal Aid Society, Immigration Law Unit.  After graduating from law school, Liz became a Fellow at the Capital Appeals Project in New Orleans, where she represented clients with first-degree and second-degree murder convictions. Before coming to CREEC, she was an Immigration Staff Attorney for The Door’s Legal Services Center, where she represented approximately 200 unaccompanied minors facing deportation. Outside the office, you can find Liz outdoors, hiking skiing, or riding horses (seems like she’ll fit right in in Colorado).  Liz also loves spending time in museums and cooking, but her favorite activity is yoga!  Welcome, Liz! We are excited...

CREEC mourns the passing of fair housing legend Tracey McCartney

The fair housing world lost a giant when Tracey McCartney passed yesterday.  To us, Tracey embodied the saying that there is no limit to what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.  Tracey worked tirelessly but in many ways behind the scenes — known and beloved by the fair housing community but no fan of self-promotion.  She played a crucial role in connecting lawyers and advocates who work for fair housing around the country, patiently herding us like cats, and ensuring a platform in which we could share knowledge, ideas, mutual support, and gallows humor.  She was terrific at connecting people on an individual level, as well, and was hilarious and self-deprecating in person. Below is the press release issued by the Tennessee Fair Housing Council.  We miss you, Tracey, and will work to honor your memory. Long-time leader of the Tennessee Fair Housing Council, Tracey McCartney left this world following illness. McCartney leaves behind a loving spouse, Nancy Blomgren of Nashville, and family who will scatter her ashes in a creek that runs by a 200-year-old white oak on her parents’ land. Here she will sustain deer and coyote, dogwood and mountain azalea.   The loss of Tracey McCartney represents a significant blow to the National Fair Housing Community. Tracey McCartney joined the Tennessee Fair Housing Council in February 1998. She was an attorney, admitted to the bars of both Alabama and Tennessee. She received a law degree from the University of Alabama in 1995. While in law school, she worked for 2½ years as a clerk/advocate for the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, where she gained valuable fair housing experience...

Settlement Requires Major Improvements in Conditions for Prisoners With Disabilities at Montana State Prison

ACLU, CREEC, and the Montana Department of Corrections Resolve Americans with Disabilities Act Claims Remaining from 1994 Class-Action Lawsuit Over Prison Conditions FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 2, 2017 CONTACT: ACLU of Montana, 406-203-3374, media@aclumontana.org Amy Robertson, Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, 303-551-5156, arobertson@creeclaw.org Alexandra Ringe, national ACLU, 212-549-2582, aringe@aclu.org MISSOULA, Mont. — Attorneys for prisoners with disabilities at the Montana State Prison and the state of Montana today filed a proposed settlement agreement that will bring the prison into greater compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. This agreement guarantees that prisoners with physical disabilities will have greater access to facilities and programs at the prison that are available to the rest of the population, like vocational training programs and prison jobs. In addition, the agreement requires that prisoners with mental disabilities shall be given reasonable accommodations when needed, such as in disciplinary hearings and education programs. Prisoners with disabilities will not be disciplined for behavior that is a product of a mental illness or physical disability. They will also be ensured the accommodations they need to participate in work assignments. “The Montana Department of Corrections is to be congratulated for working with the plaintiffs to reach this settlement,” said Jon Ellingson, lead local counsel and staff attorney for the ACLU of Montana. “The department’s actions demonstrate a commitment to prison reform that both helps prisoners rehabilitate and benefits the public when these prisoners reenter society after serving their terms.” The class-action lawsuit, Langford v. Bullock, originated 23 years ago following riots at the Montana State Prison. The parties reached a settlement long ago, and the prison complied...
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