VOR Legal Activities
VOR's Choices for a Lifetime, Options for All legal advocacy program minimizes the injustice of excluding families by defending choice and empowering families in the legal system. Justice regarding residential placement options for people with mental retardation and developmental disabilities is best achieved when those most familiar with the needs of the residents are involved (see, Heller v. Doe, 509 U.S. 312, 328-30 (1993)).
Families of people with mental retardation and developmental disabilities are often excluded from litigation that will directly impact their loved one's care. VOR assists in various ways, as appropriate to each circumstance, including participation as Amicus Curiae, expert witness recommendations, and the provision of pro bono legal support for nationally-significant cases, on a case-by-case basis.
- VOR provides advocacy and education through the provision of expert witness referrals and supportive documentation (e.g., sample pleadings, precedent, and studies on cost and quality).
- With the help of VOR’s volunteer Pro Bono Coordinating Counsel and staff, VOR arranges for pro bono or reduced fee expert legal representation or consultation on a case-by-case basis. To date, VOR's legal advocacy programs has helped families in nationally significant legal situations in AR, CA, FL, IL, MA, MD, NJ, TN and WA. The value of pro bono legal representation secured for families prior to June 2009 exceeds $600,000.
- Through Amicus Curiae (“friend of the court”) participation. VOR has submitted Amicus briefs in three Supreme Court cases (Olmstead, Garrett and Heller) and five federal district Court cases (Cramer, Parsons, Ricci, Martin and Brown), with a 75% success rate on the issues briefed by VOR.
- VOR offers grassroots organization and advocacy training to help achieve positive media and legislative outcomes on issues directly impacting the outcome of the lawsuit.
- In its publications, VOR provides its membership and others with legal news and updates relating to the field of mental retardation and developmental disabilities.
- On a very select, case-by-case, basis, VOR provides direct financial support. Often a classic David and Goliath struggle, VOR’s Choices for a Lifetime, Options for All legal advocacy program has successfully empowered families to champion their family members’ right to secure services in settings appropriate to their extreme needs.