National Center for Access to Justice

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

In the past three years, Colorado, Rhode Island and Utah have begun making interpreters available to limited English proficient (LEP) court users in all types of civil cases. The Justice Department has found the North Carolina judiciary in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act for refusing interpreters to LEP court users in cases involving housing, family matters, and other serious civil issues. The Justice Department is currently investigating similar complaints about a lack of access to interpreters in civil cases Alabama and California. These are some of the findings reported in Improvements in Language Access in Courts, 2009 to 2012, published in the most recent issue of Clearinghouse Review by Laura Abel, deputy director of the National Center for Access to Justice, and Matthew Longobardi, a Cardozo Law student who interned at the Center last summer.

The same issue features a companion piece describing how attorneys at the Georgia Legal Services Program are advocating for similar improvements in language access in Georgia’s courts, hospitals, public benefits programs and elsewhere.

Click here for a post on describing both articles.