Six Action Items You Can Do to Limit Due Process Rights Violations in Court Part II

November 16, 2018 EOAlfonso No comments exist

Last month we discussed three action items to minimize violations against your client’s due process rights.  To close 2018, here are the remaining action items that empower you to solve the issue.

 

  1. As soon as a court date is scheduled, notify the clerk’s office what kind of certified court interpreter is needed (for common languages or otherwise qualified for languages without certification available in SC).

 

I was scheduled to interpret for someone with a Spanish surname.  That person spoke ASL.  Money unwisely spent, time wasted, hearing continued.

 

Interpreters practice their profession; their schedule fills quickly.  Download our interpreter request sheet, complete it, send to the clerk’s office, and follow up with a telephone call.

 

  1. Become familiar with the Court’s Language Access Plan (LAP) (03/20/2015).

 

Court Administration was developing a new Case Management System to explore a mechanism for systemwide reporting of cases requiring an interpreter, the language required, and required interpreter appointments for future hearings.  Three years and seven months have passed.  Has the tracking mechanism been deployed? Is Court Administration still archaically tracking by payment disbursements to spoken and sign language interpreters?

 

According to SC census data before 2015, the prominent non-English languages spoken at home are Spanish, Asian languages, and others.  Four years have passed.  Is the SC census data still valid?

 

  1. If you see something, say something.

 

What happens if your hearing in Courtroom 2 is called, but the interpreter is in a plea in Courtroom 8?  Respectfully request that the judge hold the matter until the interpreter finishes in Courtroom 8.

 

Allowing some building employee who can barely interpret and uses English terms is a violation of the LEP person’s due process rights.  If you speak your client’s language and the interpreter does not provide an accurate rendition, it is your duty to inform the judge and object to the use of that interpreter.

 

If you read the LAP mentioned in number 5, you note there is no means for filing a state complaint.  However, since the judiciary does receive federal funding, it must comply with federal law.  The DOJ has sent letters in 2010 and 2016 to SC state court stakeholders.  You see something’s not done for the last two to eight years?  Say something to the Federal Coordination and Compliance Division of the DOJ.

 

In 2012, the DOJ received these primary complaints about the Hawai’i State Judiciary’s language access services:

 

  • no clear judicial policy on the provision of high quality, timely, no-cost language assistance services to LEP individuals in court proceedings and operations;
  • inconsistent procedures for court language services access;
  • a complaint system without notification to LEP populations and those who work with them;
  • an interpreter assignment system that did not adequately ensure that the most highly qualified interpreters were utilized before (emphasis added) lesser qualified interpreters; and
  • no accountability measures to certify the court interpreter program complied with Title VI.

 

In 2013, the DOJ issued recommendations to address remaining barriers, and worked with court representatives to establish appropriate deadlines to reach these goals. By 2015, the Hawai’i State Judiciary:

 

  • Issued a clear policy stating that the courts will provide all LEP individuals with free, competent court interpretation in all court proceedings, and that language assistance services will be provided in court operations free of charge;
  • Revised its court interpreter assignment system and improved training on the interpreter assignment process for interpreters and judges;
  • Committed to creating a language assistance complaint system; and
  • Tightened its oversight of language assistance delivery.

 

We look forward to the day when South Carolina Court Administration institutes a clear, detailed language access policy, annually trains judges and attorneys in language access requirements and procedures, keenly oversees language access services, instructs all courts in its unified system to post a multilingual “I speak” sheet at the entrance and the clerk’s office, and implement a language access complaint process.

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