National Center for Access to Justice

NV Public Radio Covers Court Interpreter Shortage

Court interpreters make it possible for judges and parties to understand each other.  They are the key to courts doing justice in a community where many people have limited proficiency in English.  In a May 10 Nevada Public Radio story, Nevada Legal Services Attorney Heather Anderson-Fintak described how low-income people struggle to communicate in civil cases:  “If you don’t have the financial means you are not going to have interpretation services,” she said. “Otherwise you need to bring a family member and hope that their skills are such that they can accurately and quickly interpret between the two languages.”  NCAJ’s Laura Abel described the federal legal implications of this situation:  “Under the Civil Rights Act, courts that receive any federal funding, or are part of a court system that receives any federal funding, are required to provide language access.  Courts have to provide interpreters when people are indigent, but also when people are not indigent. And courts also have to make that clear.”
On May 4, Nevada Public Radio also ran an hour-long conversation between Ms. Abel, National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators President Robert Cruz, and three outstanding Nevada court interpreters. 
 (originally published May 5, 2012 by Laura Abel)