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What’s in Draft 1 of the

Developmental Disabilities Reform Act (DDRA)?

Access to the Superior Court


Court Notification

 Within 10 business days of finding a person eligible, the DC Developmental Disabilities


Administration (DDA) must notify the Superior Court, unless the person opts out.
 A person who has opted out of Court notification can opt in at any time in the future.

Court-
Court-Appointed Advocates

Once a person becomes known to the Superior Court, the court will assign an advocate to work
with the person, unless the person opts out of having an advocate.

 The same advocate will work with the person on an ongoing basis. However, a person
can ask for a different advocate at any time.
 An advocate gets to know the person, helps the person learn of and exercise his or her
rights, consults with others who know the person well, advocates based on the person’s
expressed preferences as much as possible, encourages self-reliance, monitors and reports
to the Court on the person’s ISP and related court orders, and raises concerns about the
person’s well-being to the appropriate professionals.
 At any time, a person who opts out of Court notification or having an advocate can
choose to be made known to the Court and to receive the services of an advocate.
 Advocates are provided directly by the Court or through a contract, and are paid hourly at
rates established by the Court.

Court-
Court-Appointed Attorneys

The Superior Court will appoint an attorney to represent a person when:


1. A grievance is filed with the court by the person or on behalf of the person; or
2. There is a reasonable belief that the person is at imminent risk of harm without the
Court’s intervention, or that DDS has failed to act to keep the person safe

 Court-appointed attorneys are provided by the Court and paid at a rate set by the Court.
 If an attorney finds additional problems requiring legal representation, beyond the
original grievance, the attorney will notify the Court and the Court can choose to have the
attorney continue to represent the person.

For more information, visit http://dc-ddleg.blogspot.com or contact the DDS MAC Legislative
Committee through tjsutcliffe@arcdc.net or (202) 636-2963.
What’s in Draft 1 of the
Developmental Disabilities Reform Act (DDRA)?

Access to the Superior Court (2)


Transition from Current System

Under the current law (D.C. Law 2-137), people who apply for DDA residential services are
admitted or committed to services by the Superior Court. People who are committed have a
court-appointed attorney and an annual hearing to review whether the commitment should be
voided and whether the person is receiving services in accordance with his or her service plan.
People who are admitted have neither a court-appointed attorney nor an annual review hearing.

Under the DDRA, the process of admission and commitment will stop. Instead, people will be
found eligible by DDA. All people who are found eligible will have the right to become known
to the court, to have a court-appointed advocate, and to have a court-appointed attorney.

An 18-month transition period will ensure a smooth transition from the old to new system:

 After the DDRA becomes law, no new people will be admitted or committed under the
processes in D.C. Law 2-137. People newly applying for DDA services will instead go
through an eligibility determination by DDA.
 When the DDRA becomes law, everyone who was previously admitted or committed will
have that admission or commitment voided, and will instead be found eligible for DDA
services.
 Everyone who was previously committed will retain their right to services.
 Everyone who was previously committed or admitted will be made known to the
Superior Court and provided with an advocate.
 For up to 18 months after the DDRA becomes law, all people who were previously
committed will be entitled to attorneys under the Superior Court’s existing “Rules for
Mental Retardation Proceedings.” After 18 months, these individuals will be able to
access attorneys under the new DDRA system.
 Within 3 months after the DDRA becomes law, the Court will publish a plan to develop
the new system of court-appointed advocates, attorneys and hearings. The Court will
establish a work group to guide the development of the plan. The Court will publish a
status report on the plan at 3-month intervals, up to 18 months.
 The civil commitment of a person who has been found incompetent in a criminal case is
not affected by the new DDRA process. Everyone who was civilly committed under D.C.
Law 2-137 will continue to be civilly committed and will have a court-appointed attorney
and annual hearing. The process for civil commitment also stays the same.

For more information, visit http://dc-ddleg.blogspot.com or contact the DDS MAC Legislative
Committee through tjsutcliffe@arcdc.net or (202) 636-2963.