1998 January 10

New Jersey “Taking [the] Lead” in Providing Court Translators


An article in The New York Times on this day reported that New Jersey had taken the lead among states in providing translation services for people who did not speak English or who had limited English language proficiency. A state Supreme Court Task Force had found in 1985 that the provision of language services at that time did not meet minimal standards of competence. A bill was introduced in the legislature to require court-paid interpreters for both non-English speaking people, as well as those who were deaf and hearing-impaired. The law would be the first of its kinds in the U.S. It is estimated that about 8 percent of all court cases, or 7,300 a month, require a translator, mainly for Spanish speakers.

In a major step toward serving people for whom English is not their first language, President Bill Clinton, on August 11, 2000, signed Executive Order 13166, requiring federal agencies and other agencies receiving federal funds to develop policies to assist people with Limited English Proficiency (LEP).

Read Executive Order 13166: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2000-08-16/pdf/00-20938.pdf

Learn more at the U.S. government LEP page: http://www.lep.gov/13166/eo13166.html

Talking points against English-only laws: http://www.maldef.org/immigration/public_policy/TPenglishonly.pdf

Learn more about the law of “English-only” requirements: http://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/29/1606.7

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