Koki is an attorney based in our New Orleans office.
What do you do at AC?
I am the attorney for the Community Living Ombudsman Program (CLOP). The CLOP team advocates for and ensures that individuals residing in group homes are free from abuse and neglect, and that their rights are protected. I am also a member of the Rights Protection Team, specializing in the revocation and modification of interdictions.
Since you started working at AC 8 years ago, what has changed?
The number of attorneys on staff has increased which is exciting because it allows for increased systemic litigation.
Tell us about one of your recent accomplishments.
I represented an individual on parole who was committed indefinitely to a group home as the result of a minor crime he committed when he was 18. A term of my client’s probation was that all family visitation be supervised and overnight "furloughs" were impermissible. I had just begun to work on the case in November, when I found out that as a result of these terms, my client had not spent Christmas with his family in 8 years -- he remained at the group home with staff while everyone else spent the holidays with family and friends.
It was the second week in December when I met with my client, his provider, and the forensic coordinator. The meeting was to discuss my client’s case, but I saw it as an opportunity to bring up the fact that the holidays were quickly approaching and once again my client was going to spend it alone rather than with his family. It took several hours, but the provider and forensic coordinator agreed that my client should be allowed to go home for the holidays. The D.A. ultimately agreed and the judgment of supervised probation was modified and signed by the judge five days before Christmas. After eight years, my client spent Christmas week with his family.
What is the biggest frustration in your job?
The callousness with which individuals with disabilities are treated.
What do you hope to accomplish in the next year?
Bigger and better investigations. The CLOP team has begun to grow an investigation unit able to look into allegations of abuse and neglect in large intermediate care facilities.
What do you like about working at the Advocacy Center?
Aside from my colleagues (an obvious choice), I would have to say my clients. I have met some of the most amazing and incredible individuals through my work with AC, and feel lucky to have had them touch my life.
What's something people might not know about you?
I officiated the marriage ceremony of a dear friend and his partner this past fall - it was truly an honor!