The Texas Civil Rights Project announced the opening of its new Houston office in July 2012 with the filing of four lawsuits, commemorating the 22nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
TCRP state Director Jim Harrington introduced attorney Amin Alehashem as the first Regional Director of the Houston office. Alehashem is a graduate of Tulane University Law School and has worked at TCRP’s offices in South Texas and El Paso. Thomas Power will be joining Houston TCRP in August as a paralegal. He is currently finishing his year-long position with the Lutheran Border Servant Corps at the TCRP office in El Paso.
Harrington said that the time had come to open a Houston office because of the number of cases that TCRP has handled there over the years (see below) and because the need was great. The press conference took place at the Houston Center for Independent Living, as part of HCIL’s celebration of the 22nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
View TCRP-Houston Inaugural Event
TCRP-Houston marked the occasion of its inauguration announcement with the filing of four federal ADA lawsuits. This is “a doubly-significant” event, said Alehashem, “because it reflects our commitment to civil rights in Houston and our partnering with community human rights organizations, such as HCIL, in the cause of justice.”
One suit is about an inaccessible entrance and bathroom at a local restaurant. Three cases deal with prisoners with disabilities. In two cases, prisoners in wheelchairs do not have access to prison rehabilitative services or shower facilities. The third is on behalf of a deaf prisoner, with whom officials refused to communicate in writing during disciplinary hearings.
TCRP filed a total of 35 ADA cases around Texas. Harrington said it was “TCRP’s custom to work with disability groups throughout the state and use the July 26 ADA anniversary date to show the widespread lack of compliance by governments and business after nearly a quarter century of the ADA and to educate others about their need to follow the law.”
Houston State Senator Rodney Ellis also issued a statement welcoming TCRP to Houston. “We’ve worked closely together in the past on legislative issues, and I look forward to future collaboration in strengthening civil rights in Houston and the Harris County area,” said Sen. Ellis.
TCRP state board members from Houston attended the press conference: Kyle Wright (for Molly Gochman), Roxann Thomas Chargois, and Houston attorney Tom Gutting of King & Spalding. Also in attendance were several TCRP plaintiffs and clients.