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Press Release

Justice Department Enters Into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Oklahoma Courts to Resolve Title VI Investigation

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Justice Department announced today a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Oklahoma Supreme Court, Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) to resolve a civil rights investigation and improve access to Oklahoma state courts for people with limited English proficiency (LEP).

The department received a complaint alleging the Mayes County District Court failed to provide meaningful access for a person with LEP in a family court case. The Justice Department initiated an investigation under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin by recipients of federal financial assistance. The Justice Department subsequently paused the Title VI investigation in response to the AOC’s affirmative steps to provide meaningful access for all court users with LEP. Among other actions, the AOC provided interpreter services at no cost to the person with LEP identified in the complaint, hired a language access coordinator, and proposed legislation, which became state law. That law eliminates interpreter fees charged to LEP parties. It also authorized a statewide fund to support court language interpretation and translation services.

“People should not be penalized for their limited English proficiency and should not encounter difficulty in obtaining the language assistance services they need to fairly participate in court proceedings and operations,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This agreement stands as a model for ensuring access to the courts for all people regardless of English proficiency and outlines the actions needed to eliminate barriers for court users with limited English proficiency in Oklahoma.”  

“With the new state law and the MOU, Oklahoma has demonstrated a commitment to improving access to justice in our state,” said U.S. Attorney Clinton J. Johnson for the Northern District of Oklahoma. “We are committed to working with our state courts to ensure compliance with Title VI and related civil rights laws.”

Under the MOU, the AOC will provide oral and written language assistance services in all civil and criminal proceedings and operations court operations at no cost to individuals with LEP, will develop a statewide language access plan, and will add translations of vital documents. The AOC will also improve its case management system to better track language needs, develop a language access complaint process, create and distribute a translated interpreter services notice for courthouses, and create and issue a video remote interpreter guidance for court staff.

This matter was conducted jointly by attorneys in the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Oklahoma. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available on its website at and information about limited English proficiency and Title VI is available at Members of the public may report possible civil rights violations at or with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Oklahoma at

Updated December 27, 2023

Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 23-946