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Protection in the courts for millions of Californians with language barriers long past due, according to Green Party of California spokesperson

GREEN PARTY OF CALIFORNIA NEWS RELEASE

SACRAMENTO (March 16, 2006) - Legislation introduced here requiring California courts to provide interpreters in civil court from traffic and small claims to juvenile - is long overdue for the millions of Californians who cannot access the legal system because of language barriers, said a spokesperson for the Green Party of California today.

Assembly bill 2302 (David Jones, D-Sacramento), due to be heard in the Assembly Judiciary Committee in late March, makes it mandatory for courts to provide a certified interpreter unless a party has notified the court he or she had made other arrangements. Under current law, a qualified interpreter is not provided in most civil proceedings.

"The inability to integrate of our citizens into the legal process undermines the entire judicial system, and certainly makes a farce of our claim, as a society, of equal justice for all. This measure is long overdue," said Susan King, GPCA spokesperson.

According to the bill, the measure would effect an estimated seven million Californians who cannot access the courts without significant language assistance, and cannot communicate with clerks, court staff or the judge during a proceeding. About 40 percent of Californians now speak a language other than English in the home, with about nine million people who are foreign born. More than 220 languages are spoken in the state.

Pat Driscoll, another GPCA spokesperson, added that while the current legal system is unfavorable to those who cannot speak or read English with proficiency,"AB 2302 is one way to level the playing field for all parties in civil court."

According to the legislation, "People with limited English proficiency are often members of groups whose cultural or economic circumstances make them more likely to be subjected to legal problems, in part because perpetrators recognize their victims' limited ability to access judicial protection." The legislation also mandates the use of certified interpreters, who are trained to work within the court system. Currently courts often use interpreters who are not "certified," which hurts the cause of non-English speaking parties.

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Contacts:
Crescenzo Vellucci, State Press Office, 916.996.9170,
Sara Amir (Los Angeles), 310.270.7106,
Dr. Bob Vizzard (Sacramento), 916.206.8953,
Daniel Brezenoff (Southern California), 310.422.2211,
Susan King (San Francisco), 415.823.5524,

The Green Party of California
PO Box 2828
Sacramento, CA 95812
Phone: (916) 448-3437
Web: http://www.cagreens.org
EMail:

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