L.A. County: Language Access Plan Clarification from Raúl A. Pilling-Riefkohl

IGA spoke to Raúl A. Pilling-Riefkohl, Administrator for Interpreter Services, Los Angeles Superior Court, regarding the issue of staff expansion into civil matters.

Mr. Pilling-Riefkohl told IGA that pursuant to the LAP expansion plan, Los Angeles County is now covering certain civil cases such as small claims, unlawful detainers and probate. As we suspected, he said that other civil litigation “isn’t on the radar”. The county is already having difficulty in covering the existing court load and lacks the resources at this time to be able to cover everything.

When he was reported to have said that private party interpreters would be sent home, this was only in the context of the standing instructions to the judicial assistants in the civil courtrooms to call the assignment office if the interpreter hired by the private party is not court certified or registered.

They have no intention of sending home privately hired court certified interpreters. He also agreed with our opinion that civil litigation has dropped and is not what it use to be.

As far as the incidents where some interpreters were sent home, it is because the cases they were hired to work were related to domestic violence (criminal cases), such as restraining orders, and those are state mandated to be covered by staff interpreters or independent contractors hired by the court. 

He also clarified that many more independent contractors will be hired by the court. All the more reason to escalate our fight to raise the Court Per Diem rate for independent contractors. More on that later.

We also discussed working with them on the issue of the 45-day clause that has caused the assignment office to stop calling independents after they have 42 days worked. There are many of us who prefer to remain independents and still enjoy working with the courts and would like to work freely within the 100 day limit that the law states.

All in all, it was a very positive exchange and much needed clarification given all the alarming accounts that appeared. Although the U.S. Department of Justice has called for all civil cases be covered by 2020, it will be interesting to see if that goal can ever be met.


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