AB 2302 (Judiciary Committee): Support Access to Justice and Fairness for All Californians
Asian and Pacific Islander Americans (APIAs) represent 14% of California’s population. More than one-third of APIAs are limited-English proficient, including a majority of Vietnamese, Hmong, Taiwanese, Cambodian, Laotian, and Korean communities. In addition, greater than one-third of Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Korean, Hmong, Chinese, and Thai communities are linguistically isolated, defined as households where no member 14 years or older
speaks English “very well.”
A fair judicial system relies on due process that provides opportunities for individuals to effectively communicate the facts of a case. However, for the 7 million Californians who need language assistance, the lack of interpreters in California’s civil courts system serves as a tremendous barrier to justice. Civil courts make decisions on critical matters affecting the health and well-being of Californians, including child custody, child support, and housing. The legal system is incredibly complicated, with difficult terms and unfamiliar procedures. For limited-English proficient individuals, language assistance is needed so that they can meaningfully access the courts; understand pleadings, forms or other legal documents; communicate with clerks or court staff; and participate in court proceedings.
AB 2302 (Judiciary Committee) would institute state policy for providing interpreters in civil courts. Interpreters in civil courts are needed to ensure all Californians can meaningfully obtain justice.
Although this legislation was vetoed by the Governor in 2006, there will be a continued advocacy effort on the issue in 2007.