Nearly ten percent of Indiana’s 6.5 million residents speak a language other than English.
Many judges indicate that they have seen an increase in the number of individuals in their courts that are of limited English proficiency (LEP). Languages such as Spanish, Mandarin, Burmese, Laotian, Cambodian, Polish, Turkish, and Gujarati, are heard in our courts on a regular basis. Without qualified court interpreters, our courts cannot provide fair and adequate access to those who come before them. Federal and state case law suggests that a qualified foreign language court interpreter is one of the “physical accoutrements” or a “basic apparatus” of the court process.
Indiana has a number of resources that are available to help courts provide qualified foreign language interpretive services to litigants of limited English proficiency. Following is a list of such resources and helpful reminders, which judicial officers, court and clerk staff could reference quickly:
Find an Indiana Certified Interpreter at courts.in.gov/interpreter/2358.htm on the Indiana Supreme Court website (search by your district, “out of state” interpreters, or by county).
Access interpreters by phone in over 140 languages by calling Language Line Solutions at 1-866-874-3872. This service is provided to the courts courtesy of the Indiana Supreme Court (contact Camille Wiggins in the Division of State Court Administration for more details).
Utilize the bench card “Working with Interpreters” for best practices at your fingertips on the use of oral and sign interpreters in your court (obtained through the Division of State Court Administration).
Apply for the annual court interpreter grants from the Indiana Supreme Court to help defray the cost of interpreter services (apply through the Division of State Court Administration).
Display the bi-lingual posters that explains what the courts can and cannot do to help self-represented litigants in your court (obtained through the Division of State Court Administration).
Visit the Indiana Supreme Court website in Spanish at courts.in.gov/selfservice/2363.htm for online resources like Initial Hearing (adult and juvenile) and Small Claims videos, translations of portions of the Indiana Criminal Code, self service forms for divorce and continuance, the child support worksheet and parenting time guidelines.
Encourage your non-certified interpreters to get certified in our Certified Interpreter Program courts.in.gov/admin/2338.htm. Certification is available in Spanish, Arabic, Cantonese, Chuukese, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, French, Haitian Creole, Hmong, Ilocano, Korean, Laotian, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Turkish, and Vietnamese. Certification classes start in January and July each year. View photos of the 2012 Swearing-In Ceremony at tinyurl.com/interpreter12.
Get your staff trained in “Workplace Spanish” classes through Ivy Tech so they can assist Spanish speaking individuals with basic court information. If you have a question or would like more information about this program, please contact Michelle Goodman at 317-232-1313 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Camille T. Wiggins, Program Manager, Indiana Court Interpreter Certification Program at email@example.com or 317-233-1579, for assistance in obtaining an interpreter, accommodation issues and advice, and for any other information on court interpreters.
By utilizing any and all of these resources, courts will be well on their way to reducing the language barriers and providing access to justice for all.