Department of Justice and Mohave County, Arizona, Superior Court Work to Ensure Equal Access for Non-English Speakers
The Justice Department announced today that it has closed its review of the Language Access Program of the Mohave County, Arizona Superior Court. The closure follows the court’s successful completion of its obligations under an agreement to provide language assistance services to all limited English proficient (LEP) court users. The Civil Rights Division began working with the Mohave County Superior Court in 2013 following the receipt of a complaint by a court user alleging that the court discriminated on the basis of national origin in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by refusing to provide her an interpreter free of charge in a family law matter. Title VI requires recipients of federal financial assistance, such as courts, to provide competent language services free of charge to LEP individuals in all court proceedings and operations.
With the department’s assistance, the Mohave County Superior Court has made a number of improvements to its Language Access Program, including:
- Updating the Court Language Access Plan to clearly state that all LEP parties, witnesses, victims and anyone with an interest in a matter will be provided interpreter services in all court proceedings free of charge regardless of case type, court user income, or language spoken.
- Creating and implementing a language services complaint system.
- Improving access to services outside the courtroom for all court users through bilingual employees, “I Speak” cards available in the clerk’s office, multilingual signage, translated forms on the court’s website, and telephonic or video interpreter services available for all employees to use.
- Training all court staff on the importance of providing appropriate language services.
- Enhancing communication with stakeholders in the community.
- Working with the state court system to improve the efficiency and quality of interpreter services and translations.
“I commend the Mohave Superior Court leadership and staff for their efforts to provide all communities with equal access to justice regardless of the language they speak,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division. “As Mohave and other courts across Arizona continue to improve language services, we welcome the opportunity to provide assistance when needed.”
The department has worked with courts across the country to improve the provision of language services to LEP individuals. Information on an array of state court language access resources can be found here: http://www.lep.gov/resources/resources.html#SC. In 2014, the department released a “Language Access Planning and Technical Assistance Tool for Courts” which provides court systems with a series of questions to consider as they develop and implement plans to provide language assistance.