Language Access

Courts function well only when judges, witnesses, parties and other people in the courtroom understand each other.  When court participants have limited proficiency in English, courts may need to provide interpreters, translated documents and other types of assistance.  The National Center for Access to Justice works to ensure that courts, lawyers, litigants, and members of the public understand the importance of adequate language access in the courts.  Center staff have served on the New York Office of Court Administration’s Court Interpreter Advisory Committee and have participated in the American Bar Association’s Advisory Group on Language Access Standards

New Report from NCAJ:  In Language Access in the Federal CourtsLaura Abel, deputy director of the Center (2012-2013), reports that federal district courts often deny interpreters to LEP parties and witnesses, particularly in civil cases; fail to ensure the competence of interpreters, particularly in languages other than Spanish; and, do not make forms and information available in languages other than Spanish. The Report maps out a reform agenda for the federal district courts and for the specific bodies that regulate the federal courts.  The Report, with the exception of its executive summary, originally appeared in The Drake Law Review, 61 Drake Law Review 593 (2013).

Blog Posts

Amount DWI Case Processing Sped Up After Guam’s Courts Hired a Full-Time Chuukese Interpreter:  From 2 Years to 90 Days

Some State Courts Expand Interpreter Programs to Cover Civil Cases; Justice Department Investigates Others

Justice Department’s Civil Rights Case Moves Forward Against Sheriff Arpaio With Landmark Victory in Federal District Court

California Watch Report Reveals DOJ Is Investigating Interpreter Denials in California Courts, Quotes Center’s Deputy Director

Center Deputy Director Laura Abel to Speak on Language Access in the NY Courts at Long Island Language Advocates Coalition Conference

NV Public Radio Covers Court Interpreter Shortage

What Can Be Done When the Courts Violate Civil Rights?

ABA Puts the ALL in Equal Justice for All

State Leaders Support ABA’s Language Access Standards

Press coverage

Nevada Public Radio, As Need for Court Interpreters Grows, Who Pays? (May 10, 2012)

Nevada Public Radio, Courts Struggle With Language Needs (May 4, 2012)

Reports and Other Resources

Laura Abel, Language Access in Federal Courts (NCAJ 2013)

American Bar Association, Standards for Language Access in Courts (2012)

Laura Abel, Language Access in State Courts (Brennan Center 2009)

Laura Abel & Matthew Longobardi, Improvements In Language Access in the Courts, 2009 to 2012, 46 Clearinghouse Rev. 334  (2012)

Federal Interagency Working Group on Limited English Proficiency: www.lep.gov

National Language Access Advocates Network

National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators

Consortium for Language Access in the Courts

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