California moves to provide interpreters in all court cases
By Sudhin Thanawala Associated Press
San Jose Mercury News 08/16/2015 06:56:00 PM PDT
SAN FRANCISCO — Going through a divorce has been difficult for Sepideh Saeedi. Not understanding what’s happening in court because she isn’t proficient in English has made the process even harder.
“When you don’t understand what the judge is saying, what the other side’s attorney is saying, it’s very stressful,” Saeedi, 33, who speaks Farsi, said after a recent court hearing in Redwood City
Legal advocates say throughout the state, litigants in divorce, child custody, eviction and other civil cases who have difficulty with English are going into court without qualified interpreters. Instead, many are forced to turn to friends or family members — or worse yet, the opposing party — for translation.
That’s because California only guarantees access to an interpreter in criminal cases, not civil cases.
But the state is looking to change that. Under pressure from the U.S. Department of Justice, California’s Judicial Council this year approved a plan to extend free interpretation services to all cases by 2017.