SACRAMENTO _ Representatives from the California Federation of Interpreters had a historic meeting Monday with state Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye to discuss interpreter services and language access in California, marking the first time the organization met with the head of the Judicial Council.
Top Administrative Office of the Courts leadership also attended, including Chief of Staff Jody Patel, Administrative Director of the Court Steve Jahr, Chief Operating Officer Curt Child, Office of Governmental Affairs Director Cory Jasperson and AOC attorney Tracy Kenny.
CFI representatives at the meeting _ which included CFI President Michael Ferreira, legislative advocate Ignacio Hernandez, legislative committee member Mary Lou Aranguren, and staffers Brandon Scovill and Anabelle Garay _ offered to work with the AOC on interpreter services and language access issues.
“Look at us as part of the solution,” Aranguren told the group.
Cantil-Sakauye echoed CFI’s interest in working together to efficiently use existing resources and grant greater language access. Such a move would put California on the forefront and even make it a model for interpreter services, Cantil-Sakauye said.
During the meeting, CFI detailed how courts in some counties have stopped providing desperately needed interpreters for domestic violence matters and other civil proceedings. In other courts, interpreters no longer work interpreting the jail or probation interviews that they once did.
Courts officials around the state have told CFI they fear their requests for interpreter service reimbursements could be denied, leading them to roll back the types of proceedings for which interpreters are provided. Other court administrators have simply said they think savings in interpreter expenses will translate into money to offset other court expenses or that they’re uncertain funds will remain available, CFI representatives explained.
Cantil-Sakauye, who listened intently and took notes, said she wants to clarify to California courts that money for interpreter services is available.
“We obviously want to clear up these misunderstanding, urban myths … that deny people access,” she said.
The chief justice proposed establishing a forum of interpreter services stakeholders, referring court administrators to AOC staffers for clarification and future meetings with CFI to tackle these issues.
CFI is looking forward to collaborating with Cantil-Sakauye and her staff to improve interpreter services.
CFI represents more than 900 interpreters who work in California courts and is a unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild.