A recent case by Albany Law School's Civil Rights & Disabilities Law Clinic was mentioned in a front-page Sunday New York Times story on problems in several institutions in New York that house the developmentally disabled.
The article stated,
"Still, the pattern of secrecy at the agency has been hard to break; even after [the new commissioner's] ascension, it has battled in court to prevent the disclosure of patient records to Albany Law School, even though the school has a contract to monitor care of the disabled."
The full article, " A Disabled Boy’s Death, and a System in Disarray," is available online.
The case involves students from the Civil Rights & Disabilities Law Clinic who were denied access to records from the facilities that provided residential care for persons with disabilities. At that time, the clinic sued the state to gain access to the records.
This past spring, the Third Department of the Appellate Division ruled that the lower court erred, and that the clinic does have the right to the records of developmentally disabled individuals “who are unable to consent and have actively involved family members who are not a legal guardian, conservator or other legal representative as defined by federal regulations and (2) records under Mental Hygiene Law § 45.09 (b).”
“While this was an important decision for us, it’s just as important for protection and advocacy organizations across the state who advocate for those unable to advocate for themselves,” said Professor Bridgit Burke, who directs the Civil Rights & Disabilities Law Clinic. “This case may be used by similar organizations across the country.”
“To advocate for our clients properly, the clinic needs unfettered access to information,” Burke said.
The case continues: Most recently the Court of Appeals agreed to review the decision.