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Disability Docket March 2019: Amicus (Friend of the Court) Briefs

In December 2018, The Arc filed an amicus brief before the New York Supreme Court in People v. McCollum in support of an adult man with autism charged with unauthorized driving of city trains and buses. In an unprecedented decision, the lower court found that, based on his autism diagnosis, Darius McCollum met the criteria for a “dangerous mental disorder” and committed him to a psychiatric institution for the most violent offenders despite him never having committed a violent crime. The brief argues that this placement is wholly inappropriate for someone like Mr. McCollum, who could thrive in the community with appropriate supports and services.

The Arc also received a positive outcome in a prior case in which it participated in an amicus brief, Postawko v. Missouri Department of Corrections. The brief supported the certification of a class of prisoners seeking life-saving medical treatment and alleging that the Missouri Department of Corrections refused to treat them in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and argued that class actions are a vital tool for civil rights enforcement for the most vulnerable populations. In December 2018, the Eighth Circuit affirmed class certification since the alleged deficiencies in a prison-wide treatment policy impose a common injury.