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Judge rejects state’s appeal bid in deaf litigant case

June 17, 2016

A federal judge Friday rejected the state’s effort to appeal a ruling that a court discriminated against a deaf litigant, writing the bid was “a classic example of when an immediate appeal is not warranted.”

Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson denied an interlocutory appeal sought by the state, which represents defendant Marion Circuit Court. The state asked Magnus-Stinson to certify an appeal of her summary judgment motion in favor of Dustin King, who was denied an American Sign Language interpreter in court-ordered mediation program in his child-custody case.

Magnus-Stinson ruled in May that the denial of an interpreter for King was a violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and that the court failed to make a reasonable accommodation.

The state also asked the judge to stay the proceedings pending appeal of the judgment that found the courts in violation of the ADA. It argued in part that an appeal at this point would expedite the litigation. Magnus-Stinson disagreed.

"To resolve the remaining issue of damages, the parties have a settlement conference and a one-day bench trial. After that, Marion Circuit Court could appeal all the issues at the same time. Moreover, as
Mr. King asserts, the parties’ briefing schedule for an appeal would extend beyond the scheduled date of the bench trial, thus, prolonging the litigation. Accordingly, the Court rejects Marion Circuit Court’s argument that an immediate appeal would speed up the litigation," Magnus-Stinson wrote.   

The judge also disagreed with the state’s argument that the issues it sought to appeal were questions of law. The case is Dustin King v. Marion Circuit Court, 1:14-cv-1092.

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