Who will be heard? Using Minow’s approaches to legal analysis to understand court decisions about facilitated communication
In this paper I look at two court cases that considered the admissibility of out of court statements or direct testimony made by people using facilitated communication. Matter of M.Z. et al (1992) dealt explicitly with the admissibility of testimony made by a ten-year old girl using facilitated communication, in which she alleged sexual abuse by a family member. Hahn v. Linn County (2002) was about the refusal of a county to pay an agency for provision of facilitated communication. Minow’s (1990) three approaches to legal analysis (abnormalpersons; rights-analysis; and social-relations approaches) provided a useful framework for interrogating the two decisions. While using Minow’s framework to examine the two decisions, I consider the possible implications of discourses of disability and disability research for participation in the legal setting. Which regimes of truth are established and re-established in this setting? Lastly, I make some suggestions about how the courts might embrace Minow’s social relations approach in more obvious ways.