Senior Director for Law and Policy
Jonathan Martinis, Esq., J.D., has joined the Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) at Syracuse University as Senior Director for Law and Policy. Mr. Martinis has over 20 years’ experience representing and advocating for people with disabilities to ensure that they receive the services and supports they need and want to live full, meaningful, and community integrated lives.
BBI Chairman and University Professor Peter Blanck notes that “Martinis has devoted his career to representing people across the spectrum of disabilities, and their families and supporters, to protect their human and legal civil rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other civil rights laws.” He served as lead counsel in Brinn v. Tidewater Transportation District Commission, the first case to hold that people with disabilities have a right to paratransit transportation on a next-day basis and he was lead counsel in Winborne v. Virginia Lottery, in which the court held that the Lottery must ensure that all private businesses selling Lottery tickets are accessible to people with disabilities.
In 2013, Martinis represented Jenny Hatch in the nationally acclaimed “Justice for Jenny” case, helping Ms. Hatch secure her right to live where and how she wants, to make her own decisions, and direct her own life. Jenny’s case was the first trial to hold that a person with disabilities has a right to engage in “Supported-Decision Making,” where people work with trusted friends, family members, and professionals to help them understand the situations and choices they face, so they may make their own decisions – rather than be subjected to a unnecessary permanent, plenary or full guardianship. The “Justice for Jenny” decision is hailed nationally and internationally for the principle that “an individual’s right to choose how to live and the government’s progress in providing the help needed to integrate even those with the most profound need’s into the community” is a right guaranteed under law.
Since the Hatch legal decision, Jonathan has presented to and trained thousands of individuals, families, advocates, attorney, professionals, and service providers about everyone’s Right to Make Choices and direct their own lives, while receiving the services and supports they need to do so. He currently serves as the co-Project Director of the National Resource Center for Supported Decision-Making led by the Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities.
Martinis is based at BBI’s Washington DC office, and leads BBI’s national and international efforts to ensure that older adults and people with disabilities receive appropriate supports and services, including Supported Decision-Making, to lead inclusive, independent, and self-determined lives.