Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 27, 2016

Justice Department Reaches Agreement with Kentucky Courts to Ensure Equal Access for Non-English Speakers

The Justice Department announced today that it has reached an agreement with the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts to resolve its review of the provision of language assistance service to limited English proficient (LEP) state court users.

The department began working with the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts after receiving a complaint alleging national origin discrimination under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, following a state court judge’s failure to provide interpreter services to LEP parties.  Title VI requires recipients of federal financial assistance, such as courts, to provide competent language services to LEP individuals in all court proceedings and operations.

During the course of the department’s review, the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts has strengthened its language access programming.  Such efforts include creating and implementing a language services complaint system to be translated into a dozen non-English languages, training court staff on the importance of providing appropriate language services and developing systems to improve the efficiency and quality of interpreter services and translations.

As a condition of the agreement, the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts has agreed to a 12-month monitoring phase, during which it will provide quarterly updates to the department regarding any developments related to providing language services, as well as any new complaints alleging failure to provide appropriate language assistance services.

“I commend the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts for committing to ensure that all individuals, regardless of the language they speak, can fully and fairly access court services and proceedings,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  “We look forward to working collaboratively to continue these critical efforts and ensure equal access to justice for all.”

The case was handled by Attorney Dylan Nicole de Kervor of the Civil Rights Division’s Federal Coordination and Compliance (FCS) Section.

The complaint was resolved as part of the FCS court initiative to ensure that state courts comply with Title VI’s language access requirements.  No LEP individual should be denied justice because a court fails to provide language services.  The FCS courts team provides policy guidance and technical assistance to state court systems and undertakes enforcement actions across the country.

For further information about FCS and Title VI, please visit https://www.justice.gov/crt/fcs.  For additional LEP-related resources, please visit http://www.lep.gov/index.htm

Kentucky Courts

Topic(s): 
Access to Justice
Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 
16-745
Updated August 1, 2016