Even the State Needs to Provide Due Process

The attorneys at GillespieShields practice family, employment, civil, criminal, appeals, and immigration law.

Upholding Due Process:

The Arizona Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) provides essential services to help eligible Arizona citizens with developmental disabilities. Because it involves a government benefit, the State must provide due process before terminating the benefit. “But you don’t mean REALLY provide due process, right? Just KINDA provide due process?” the State asked. In A.W. v. DES/DDD, The Court of Appeals Division 1 held, yes, we mean you REALLY have to provide due process.

Case Details:

This case involves a child. We don’t know her name, so let’s call her “Amy.” Amy was born with numerous health problems and disabilities and was approved for DDD services before she was six. After the age of six, the requirements for DDD services change and a child must have both: 1) An appropriate diagnosis and 2) Show that she has substantial limitations in at least three life areas. After Amy turned six, the State decided Amy no longer qualified and attempted to terminate her services.

Here is the sticking point…the State only sent notice to Amy’s mother that Amy didn’t have an appropriate diagnosis. Well, that was easy to fix. Amy did have an appropriate diagnosis, so Mother requested review and provided proof of Amy’s diagnosis. The State still terminated the services, stating that Amy didn’t have a substantial limitation. Mother followed the full appellate procedure to appeal the termination, and everyone said the same thing. They agreed that Amy had an appropriate diagnosis, but she didn’t have a substantial limitation, and the termination was upheld. Amy’s Mother finally appealed to COA1.

Rulings and Conclusions:

In a unanimous opinion by Chief Judge Thumma, COA1 held that the State could not terminate Amy’s services because they never provided proper notice of their intent to terminate due to lack of a substantial limitation. Without proper notice, COA1 noted, due process prohibited the State from terminating the services for this reason. Just because the experts and judges talked about the substantial limitation does not, the court held, mean that the deficiency was cured.

But, the State argued, it didn’t actually terminate coverage, it simply denied a reapplication to the program, and therefore there was no problem here. But, COA1 looked at the record and did not buy this argument, as the State had clearly sent a notice of intent to “cancel” services and there was no reapplication on file. Therefore, COA1 vacated the Board’s conclusion that Amy lacked substantial limitations.

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