Skip to main content
Press Release

United States Enters Into A Memorandum Of Understanding With The New York State Office Of Court Administration Ensuring Access To Rockland County Drug Treatment Court For Participants With Limited English Proficiency

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Kristen Clarke, the Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, announced today that the United States entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) with the New York State Unified Court System, Office of Court Administration (“OCA”) resolving its review of the Rockland County Drug Treatment Court’s compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin by recipients of federal financial assistance.  Prohibited discrimination may include a failure to provide meaningful language access. 

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Members of the community should not be denied meaningful access to court proceedings and programs offering alternatives to traditional sentencing because of their limited English proficiency.  We thank the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office and OCA for working with us to ensure that the Rockland County Drug Treatment Court is available to all eligible participants, and we hope that this Memorandum of Understanding can serve as a model for all courts in this district to ensure meaningful access to persons with limited English proficiency, in compliance with Title VI.”

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said: “Ensuring equal justice under law means doing so in a manner that is fair, accurate and understandable for all, but that does not happen unless people involved in the judicial process can communicate with each other.  People should not be penalized for their limited English proficiency and should receive the language assistance services they need to fairly participate in court proceedings and court-mandated trainings or treatment programs.  This agreement stands as a model for ensuring access to the courts, including its programs and services, for all people, regardless of English proficiency, and outlines the actions needed to eliminate barriers for court users with limited English proficiency.”

According to the MOU and public filings and statements:

In January 2023, this Office reviewed a complaint alleging that people with limited English proficiency (“LEP”) could not participate fully in the Rockland County Drug Treatment Court because the Court did not provide translation and interpretation services.  Shortly thereafter, OCA became involved in the language access procedures for the Rockland County Drug Treatment Court and ultimately assumed responsibility for the Court in March 2024.  This Office, in collaboration with the Civil Rights Division, worked with OCA and the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office, which operated the Drug Treatment Court prior to March 2024, to identify reforms necessary to ensure that all LEP individuals qualified to participate in the Drug Treatment Court had meaningful language access. 

During the review of this matter, the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office and OCA took several affirmative steps to provide meaningful access for Court participants with LEP, including committing to provide interpreter services for all court proceedings, conducting outreach to Rockland County Drug Treatment Court stakeholders, and identifying a local treatment provider to provide court-mandated treatment services in Spanish.

Under the MOU, OCA will take a number of additional steps to ensure meaningful access for LEP participants in the Rockland County Drug Treatment Court.  These steps include translating all documents into Spanish, Creole, and Yiddish, and into other languages upon request, publicizing the Drug Treatment Court program in these additional languages, and securing treatment providers that will offer court-mandated drug treatment programs in a manner that provides meaningful access to people with LEP, at no cost to participants.

Information about Title VI and limited English proficiency is available at  Members of the public may report possible civil rights violations in the Southern District of New York at or with the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division at

*                *                *

Mr. Williams thanked the Civil Rights Division, Federal Coordination and Compliance Section, for its collaboration in resolving this matter. 

This case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Rights Unit in the Civil Division.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine S. Poscablo is in charge of the case.


Nicholas Biase, Lauren Scarff, Shelby Wratchford
(212) 637-2600

Updated June 11, 2024

Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 24-211