Washington State mulls rule on counsel in admin proceedings for litigants with disabilities

01/01/2017, Court Rule or Initiative, All Basic Human Needs

Washington State's Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), the central panel in charge of hearing cases for over 40 state agencies, is considering adoption of a rule for its hearings that would permit the appointment of counsel for people with disabilities (similar to GR-33, a Washington rule authorizing appointments in court proceedings as a reasonable accommodation). Advocates in Washington State have drafted a proposed Model Rule and procedure for assessing the need for representation under a number of scenarios. OAH hears cases for the Department of Social and Health Services (public assistance and child support cases), Healthcare Authority (Medical assistance cases), Employment Security (UI cases), and the Office of the Superintendent for Public Instructions (special education cases), to name just a few of the agencies that serve clients who often have disabilities affecting their ability to represent themselves in hearings.