Court Access for Individuals with Disabilities

Melanie Bray is the Assistant Director of Legal Services at Disability Rights Louisiana, a nonprofit law firm and the Protection and Advocacy (P&A) agency for the state of Louisiana serving individuals with disabilities throughout the state. She currently works on a variety of cases including Medicaid eligibility and associated services, waiver eligibility and denials, as well as generally protecting the civil and human rights of individuals with disabilities. A number of those cases include advocating for autonomy by challenging interdictions or by advocating for a less restrictive option, such as supported decision making (“SDM”). She was also involved with the development of the Dustin Gary Act, the SDM legislation that passed in August 2020, as well as subsequent trainings and webinars on SDM. She is also working on a few major class action cases, including one pertaining to the treatment of prisoners with mental illness. She has successfully represented people with disabilities individually and in class actions in administrative hearings and state and federal court. She also trains attorneys, advocates, social workers, individuals, and parents on disability-rights legal issues. She serves on the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Legal Services for Persons with Disabilities Committee.

She is originally from New York State and came to New Orleans in 2013. Prior to her move to New Orleans, she graduated from Columbia College with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and criminal justice. After that, she earned her master’s degree in criminal justice securities and administrations from University of Phoenix. She graduated from Loyola University College of Law New Orleans in 2016 and was admitted to the Louisiana Bar the same year.

Material in this chapter is current as of February 18, 2023.

Disclaimer: The articles in the Gillis Long Desk Manual do not contain any legal advice.