Blog

RELEASE: Wade Henderson selected for the 2020 Judith Heumann Champion of Justice Award

BALTIMORE, MD (July 13, 2020) — Disability Rights Maryland (DRM) is pleased to announce Wade Henderson, former president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (The Leadership Conference), as the 2020 honoree of the newly established Judith Heumann Champion of Justice Award. This prestigious award recognizes Henderson for his lifetime of advocacy and passion for civil rights and the disability rights movement. Renowned disability rights activist Judith Heumann will personally present the award to Henderson at the virtual 2020 Breaking Barriers Awards Gala on Nov. 12, 2020.

In Henderson’s two decades of leadership at The Leadership Conference, he secured vital national legislation for people with disabilities and positioned The Leadership Conference as a determining force in the struggle for further legislation. Henderson’s advocacy for equal access to education, transportation, public benefits, and employment has empowered people with disabilities to build better quality lives with dignity and normalcy. His long and ongoing struggle to combat discrimination against people of color and people with disabilities has moved this country closer to fulfilling its promise of freedom and equality for all. Through his leadership, advocacy, and lifelong commitment to justice, Henderson inspires a rising generation of civil rights advocates.

Henderson has helped pass key legislation including the Fair Housing Amendments Act, the Help America Vote Act, the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. His work has not only helped people with disabilities live integrated lives in communities across the country, but it has also laid the crucial legal groundwork for DRM to continue fighting for the full and equal access of all Marylanders with disabilities.

DRM’s signature Breaking Barriers Awards Gala honors those individuals, law firms, and organizations that have demonstrated exceptional leadership, vision, and achievements in promoting and safeguarding the legal rights of people with disabilities in Maryland.

###

Read more

RELEASE: Andrew D. Levy selected For the 2020 Lorraine Sheehan Lifetime Achievement Award

BALTIMORE, MD (July 10, 2020) — Disability Rights Maryland (DRM) is pleased to announce Andrew D. Levy, partner at Brown, Goldstein & Levy, LLP., as the 2020 honoree of the prestigious Lorraine Sheehan Lifetime Achievement Award, in recognition of his commitment and lifelong service to people with disabilities and his embodiment of the spirit and attributes that the award celebrates. The award will be presented to Mr. Levy at the virtual 2020 Breaking Barriers Awards Gala on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020.

As chair of the Maryland Commission on Disabilities from 2010 to 2015, Mr. Levy’s exceptional leadership led to improved and streamlined services for people with disabilities. Acting as lead counsel for many years, he successfully grappled with and overcame community resistance to establishing group homes for persons with disabilities. The landmark Potomac Group Home case, in which Mr. Levy was lead counsel, resulted in the elimination of state and local laws that required neighbor notification and public hearings as prerequisites to the establishment of community-based homes.

Among a small select group of attorneys, Mr. Levy has been listed in Best Lawyers in America for 20 years, a reflection of the high level of respect he has earned for his abilities, professionalism, and integrity. His prolific leadership in the legal community is legendary, and the scope of his work spans both criminal and civil litigation. Mr. Levy is and has been a teacher and mentor to generations of law students.

“Like Ms. Sheehan,” DRM Executive Director Robin C. Murphy stated, “Andy is integral to the disability rights movement in Maryland. His many years of public service have brought about systemic change on the ground by instituting new policies that integrate people with disabilities into the wider community.”

DRM’s signature Breaking Barriers Awards Gala honors those individuals, law firms, and organizations that have demonstrated exceptional leadership, vision, and achievements in promoting and safeguarding the legal rights of people with disabilities in Maryland.

###

Read more

RELEASE: DRM’s Executive Director Robin Murphy Appointed to Maryland Attorney General’s Access to Justice Task Force

BALTIMORE, MD — Robin Murphy, Executive Director of Disability Rights Maryland (DRM), has been appointed to serve on the Maryland Attorney General’s COVID-19 Access to Justice Task Force, a partnership between the Maryland Office of the Attorney General and the Maryland Access to Justice Commission. The prestigious 51- member Task Force will work to ensure Marylanders’ access to a just, fair, and equitable civil justice system as the state grapples with the fallout of COVID-19.

In a virtual press conference on June 11, 2020, Attorney General Brian E. Frosh announced the launch of the COVID-19 Access to Justice Task Force. Bringing together high-level and diverse leaders with expertise in a myriad of sectors, including the judiciary, federal and state legislative branches, health, disaster recovery, business, government, and others, the Task Force is charged with confronting the COVID-19 challenge with innovative solutions and commitment to implementation.

DRM applauds the Attorney General’s and the Access to Justice Commission’s initiative. “Maryland communities directly served by DRM,” Murphy stated, “have been disproportionately struck and suffered the effects of the pandemic. A negative impact is compounded when a disability intersects with other identities such as race. Recent events testify to the enduring impact of institutionalized and structural racism in our country.” She added, “Just as communities of color have been inordinately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, so too are Black, Hispanic, and Native American families disproportionately affected by the systemic gaps in the civil justice system. This Task Force will work to bridge those gaps and secure the stability of Maryland families in the wake of COVID-19.”

As the Task Force works to correct inequities in Maryland’s civil justice system, DRM will continue its mandate to protect the equal rights and the full inclusion of Marylanders with disabilities during the ongoing health crisis.

“I look forward to participating in the Task Force as we develop concrete steps that can be taken to ensure full inclusion and equity for all.” Murphy said.

###

Read more

Governor Hogan Vetoed the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Bill

The Blueprint ensures every child in Maryland gets the education they deserve


We are writing to share a disappointing, but hopefully temporary, setback: Governor Hogan has decided to veto the bipartisan Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. This historic piece of legislation passed with overwhelming majorities in both the House of Delegates (96-38) and the Senate (37-9) and had responsible safeguards put in place to protect our budget against downturns in the economy.

Now more than ever, students, families, and communities need the support and investment offered by the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future bill. The Blueprint implements a series of important reforms that benefit our children’s education, health and well-being, and the state’s economy. Some of the benefits of the legislation include:

  • Investing in early childhood education by expanding full-day Pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds.
  • Transforming teaching into a high-status profession with increased preparation and benchmark salaries.
  • Expanding college and career pathways including career and technical education opportunities.
  • Fixing our regressive funding formula by providing extra support for students living in poverty and interventions for struggling students, including students with disabilities, before achievement gaps grow.
  • Adding a new accountability board to ensure the reforms are carried out with fidelity.

The state of Maryland must remain committed to the goal of eliminating inequities and building an education system that works for all kids, families, and educators over the long term. This virus magnified the extreme disparities that exist in Maryland, including in our schools. The Blueprint was designed to close these disparities and eliminate the achievement gap. We can’t let this veto send a message that our kids’ future is not a priority for the state of Maryland.

Legislators wisely built in a pause button into the Blueprint in the event of an extreme economic downturn. This pause button would slow implementation allowing the economy to recover before further funding ramps up. The Blueprint takes a measured, cautious fiscal approach while implementing the supports that we know all of our students need.

Now is the time for our leaders to ensure that Maryland will build the system we need not only to recover from this virus but to provide enhanced opportunities for all students, eliminate racial achievement gaps, and rebuild a strong economy for all Marylanders.

Read more

DRM‘s Adrienne Mallinson Presents at the 2019 TASH Conference

On December 7, 2019, Adrienne Mallinson, a Managing Attorney for the Developmental Disabilities and Healthcare team at Disability Rights Maryland (DRM), presented at the 2019 TASH Annual Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.

TASH (The Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps) is an international leader in disability advocacy. Founded in 1975, TASH works to advance inclusive communities through advocacy, research, professional development, policy, and information and resources for parents, families, and self-advocates. The inclusive practices TASH validates through research have been shown to improve outcomes for all people.

Ms. Mallinson summarized the contents of her white paper which describes the challenges facing individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in accessing personal assistance and personal support services in Maryland. Her presentation described the current problems with Developmental Disabilities and Community First Choice (CFC) services in Maryland and outlines the legal and policy choices facing advocates around the State.

Read more