In Re Hicks/Brown

State: Michigan

Filed: 2016

Court: Supreme Court of Michigan

Overview: The brief supported a mother with intellectual disability arguing that the state failed in its statutory duty to make reasonable efforts to reunify the family unit because the case service plan never included reasonable accommodations to provide her with a meaningful opportunity to benefit, as required by the ADA.

Excerpt: “The Court of Appeals in this case reached the correct conclusion: when a state agency fails to provide reasonable accommodations to a parent with disabilities in a case service plan, the agency fails in its statutory duty to make reasonable efforts to reunify the family. When this happens, the state simply cannot satisfy the high burden (i.e., clear and convincing evidence) required to take the drastic measure of terminating parental rights. Failing to provide a parent with disabilities with an appropriate case service plan necessarily leaves a ‘hole’ in the evidence that prohibits a court from finding that the requisite grounds for termination have been satisfied. How can a trier of fact find evidence so clear and weighty to come to a clear conviction, without hesitancy, that a person with disabilities cannot remedy the grounds leading to adjudication or otherwise provide proper care for his or her child when the parent was never given the appropriate reasonable accommodations? The answer is, as the Court of Appeals held, that they cannot. The American with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Michigan Probate Code, as well as common sense, dictate such a ruling.”

Case Documents

Amicus Brief: In Re Hicks/Brown

Supreme Court of Michigan Opinion