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Published on September 21st, 2016 | by Reporters Desk

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Expanded Services for People Who Speak Limited English

LOS ANGELES – On Sept. 20, the Justice Department announced that people with limited English proficiency court will have access to timely and accurate language assistance services at the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles to ensure

This resolved a Justice Department investigation of a complaint filed by the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles that alleged the Court failed to provide limited english individuals with meaningful access to its court services, including civil proceedings and court operations. The failure could be considered a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of national origin.

During the investigation, the Court steadily expanded its provision of interpreter services, which now includes all criminal and the vast majority of civil proceedings, as well as oral and written language assistance in court services. It also agreed to expand free interpreter services to unlimited civil matters – the last remaining case type in which language services are currently not guaranteed – by December 1, 2017.  Among other commitments, the court will translate additional documents, provide broader notice about the availability of free interpreter services for court proceedings and make it easier to request an interpreter.

While the department’s investigation focused on the Los Angeles court, the structure of the California judicial system required the Justice Department to review policies circulated and enforced at the state level. In a 2013 letter sent to the Los Angeles Court, the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court and the California Administrative Office of the Courts, the Justice Department identified Title VI compliance concerns, and made recommendations to improve compliance and offered to work collaboratively to ensure compliance.The Department is working separately with the Judicial Council to resolve the portion of the investigation focused on statewide compliance.

For more information, visit www.lep.gov or view a Justice Department publication, “Language Access in State Courts.”

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