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GALLOWAY v. SUPERIOR COURT OF THE DIST. OF COLUMBI

March 16, 1993

DONALD GALLOWAY, Plaintiff,
v.
THE SUPERIOR COURT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOYCE HENS GREEN

 
Individuals with disabilities . . . have been faced with restrictions and limitations, subjected to a history of purposeful unequal treatment, . . . based on characteristics that are beyond the control of such individuals and resulting from stereotypic assumptions not truly indicative of the individual ability of such individuals to participate in, and contribute to, society.

 42 U.S.C. § 12101(a)(7) (1992). Declaring that he has been the subject of precisely this type of discrimination, plaintiff Donald Galloway ("plaintiff" or "Galloway") initiated this action, alleging that defendants' policy and practice of refusing to permit persons who are blind to serve on juries of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia ("Superior Court") violates the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ("Rehabilitation Act"), as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 794, regulations implementing that law, and the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff subsequently filed a second amended complaint, which added a cause of action alleging a violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12132.

 Presently pending are cross-motions for summary judgment, in which plaintiff seeks, inter alia, declaratory and injunctive relief. Specifically, Galloway asks that the Court declare the policy of excluding blind jurors from Superior Court juries discriminatory, and accordingly enjoin defendants from barring blind persons from participating in the jury pool. Defendant, on the other hand, continues to maintain that blind persons cannot be deemed "qualified" to perform the essential functions of a juror. After consideration of all of the pleadings and for the reasons stated below, plaintiff's motion is granted, and defendants' motion is denied.

 BACKGROUND

 Plaintiff Galloway is a United States citizen, who lives in and is registered to vote in the District of Columbia. He is also blind and has been blind since the age of sixteen. Presently, he is employed as a Special Assistant and Manager by the District of Columbia Department of Housing and Community Development. Prior to attaining his current position, Galloway received both a Bachelors of Arts degree in sociology and a Masters of Arts in social work. After completing his education, he held a variety of research and supervisory positions in both the private and public sectors. For instance, early in his career, Galloway worked for the University of California, assisting the establishment of a prepaid health care program and health care centers. Later, Galloway served for three years as the Director of the Peace Corps for Jamaica, and then became assistant to the Deputy Director of the Peace Corps. In his current position with the District of Columbia government, as well as in his past positions, Galloway has had "to evaluate facts and people and to weigh evidence and make judgments based on this information." *fn1" Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment ("Plaintiff's Motion"), Declaration of Donald Galloway ("Galloway Declaration"), at 4.

 Like many registered voters in the District of Columbia, Galloway received a notice from the Superior Court indicating that he had been selected for jury duty. Accordingly, accompanied by his guide dog, he duly reported to Superior Court at 8:00 a.m. on the specified date, March 1, 1991. Although he attempted to register for the jury pool, Galloway was informed by Superior Court personnel that he was barred from serving as a juror because he is blind -- the official policy of the Superior Court excludes all blind persons from jury service. *fn2"

 
an individual shall not be qualified to serve as a juror . . . if determined to be incapable by reason of physical or mental infirmity of rendering satisfactory jury service. . . .

 Id. § 11-1906(b)(2)(A).

 DISCUSSION

 Summary judgment is appropriate when there is "no genuine issue as to any material fact and . . . the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). "The inquiry performed is the threshold inquiry of determining whether there is a need for trial--whether, in other words, there are any genuine issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). In considering a motion for summary judgment, the "evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his [or her] favor." Id. at 255. At the same time, however, Rule 56 places a burden on the non-moving party to "go beyond the pleadings and by [his or] her own affidavits, or by the 'depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file,' designate 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986).

 After careful consideration of the statutes invoked and the pleadings submitted, it is clear that defendants have violated the Rehabilitation Act, the ADA, and the Civil Rights Act of 1871 by implementing a policy that categorically excludes blind individuals from jury service. *fn3"

 A. The Rehabilitation Act

 Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act provides that:

 
No otherwise qualified individual with handicaps in the United States, . . . shall, solely by reason of her or his handicap, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any ...

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