California is one of the most ethnically diverse states in the union, with many different cultures speaking over 200 different languages. It also has the nation’s largest system of courts, spread out over an expansive area of rural and urban centers. Up until recently, the state’s legal system wasn’t able to communicate with members of the ethnic groups living in the state being represented in court proceedings. That is because of the fact that while California interpreters are required in all criminal cases, they weren’t mandatory in civil cases. This meant that many people were forced to find someone to translate for them – which could be a friend, family member or even someone on the opposing legal team.
But thanks to recent push by the United States Department of Justice (USDJ) and California’s Judicial Council, interpreters will now be provided for all cases – not just criminal. As reported by CBS 13, the plan will give funding for free interpretations services in all proceedings – including divorce, child custody elder abuse – until 2017.
California was one of 10 states in the nation that didn’t regulate the availability of interpreters in the courtroom or require it. This had been a problem for many people in and outside the legal profession, including interpreters. “There’s a lot of excuses the courts have used for years.” said Mary Lou Aranguren, chairwoman of the California Federation of Interpreters. “Our input all along has been that they can do it sooner.”
Fortunately, a new law passed last year requiring interpreters in all civil cases, in concert with the USDJ’s recommendations, has made that hope a reality. For more information on this or any other associated legal questions, contact the Northern California Law Office of Rick D. Banks for more information.