Courts function acceptably only when judges, witnesses, parties and other people in the courtroom understand each other. When participants have limited proficiency in English, courts may need to provide interpreters, translate documents, and offer other language 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 participated in the American Bar Association’s Advisory Group on Language Access Standards. The Justice Index, created by NCAJ as an on-line resource for promoting adoption of best practices in state justice systems, includes a sub-index ranking states based on their adoption of policies that promote selected best practices for linterpreting and translating, at http://www.justiceindex.org/findings/language-assistance/.
Report from NCAJ: In Language Access in the Federal Courts, Laura 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).
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- Some State Courts Expand Interpreter Programs to Cover Civil Cases; Justice Department Investigates Others
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- 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
- 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)
- U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, Language Access in State Courts (US DOJ September 2016).
- 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, 2oo9 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