CFI-backed bill to provide interpreters in civil cases clears legislature

SACRAMENTO – A California Federation of Interpreters-sponsored bill to ensure quality language access for civil court users has cleared the state Senate and Assembly and awaits the governor’s signature.

The legislation, authored by Assembly Member Ed Chau, gives interpreters a voice in developing the best practices for their profession while improving language access in California.

AB1127 would:

  • ensure interpreters and other stakeholders are included in the discussions as the Judicial Council develops a comprehensive statewide Language Access Plan to serve limited English proficient court users;
  • implement a three-year pilot program in three courts that would provide interpreters for civil cases;
  • and create a working group that includes interpreters and language experts to advise the Judicial Council on developing best practices for providing interpreters in civil matters.

“AB1127 will ensure that professional interpreters’ expertise and experience are part of the discussion as the state courts meet the challenge of expanding language access in civil matters. We want to make sure that interpreter services are fully available and that courts provide meaningful access through language access services that use competent, qualified interpreters. In California, interpreters who are competent and qualified for courts are found on the AOC’s list of certified and registered interpreters,” said Michael Ferreira, President of the California Federation of Interpreters.

The Administrative Office of the Courts in California and the Los Angeles Superior Court have been the subject of a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation over its failure to provide meaningful language access to court users.  AB 1127 helps the state to move closer to voluntary compliance with federal law, specifically Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

Some seven million Californians cannot access the courts – from handling traffic tickets to dealing with child support issues – without significant language assistance.

CFI, a unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, represents more than 900 interpreters who work in California courts.

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Pacific Media Workers Guild

We are the Pacific Media Workers Guild, Local 39521 of The Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America. We represent more than 1,200 journalists and other media workers, interpreters, translators, union staffs and freelancers.