CA Court Interpreter Funding Boost Key to Access to Justice

In states like California where roughly 44 percent of residents speak a language other than English, court interpreters are a key component to reasonably equitable justice. Just last week, we noted the backlog of California immigration cases had trumped 500,000 making court interpreters a sought after commodity.

The LA Times Reports (8/9/16): Aldo Waykam, a Mayan language interpreter, meets recently with Vinicio Nicolas, 15, outside the federal immigration court in Anaheim before Vinicio's asylum hearing. Vinicio speaks Kanjobal, the language used in his village in the highlands of Guatemala. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

The LA Times Reports (8/9/16): Aldo Waykam, a Mayan language interpreter, meets recently with Vinicio Nicolas, 15, outside the federal immigration court in Anaheim before Vinicio’s asylum hearing. Vinicio speaks Kanjobal, the language used in his village in the highlands of Guatemala. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Earlier this month, the LA Times reported extensively on the challenge of Border Kids whose native language is Mayan.  Many of these kids are coming in from countries such as Guatemala to escape gang violence epidemic with the drug cartels.

They report, “Spoken by almost 80,000 people in mostly rural municipalities in Huehuetenango, Guatemala, Kanjobal is common in places like Santa Eulalia… but rare everywhere else.”

As with other court funding issues; however, funding has been short. The shortages have real consequences, according to the Times Report, “The shortage of interpreters is leading to a host of issues. Often, judges delay immigration hearings until one is found. At times, asylum seekers are deported even if they have a strong case because a qualified interpreter cannot be found in time. And unlike in immigration court, interpreters aren’t provided for free during asylum hearings.”

Gov. Jerry Brown just signed into law the California budget which includes nearly a 10 percent increase in funds for court interpreters, Slator.com reports, bringing the total over $103 million. This is a major development considering the Justice Index placed California in 30th place out of 52 for language access in its 2016 report.

The money isn’t going into a vacuum either, it appears. The reporter notes, “The numbers are huge. A 2015 report by the Judicial Council of California showed that court interpreters in the state provided a total of 254,000 service days from 2012–13.”

As other states struggle with the Border Kids crisis, court interpreter funding will likely become an ever present issue demanding more attention.

Philly Bar Assoc. Will Push Civil Gideon In 2016

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, "Gaetan Alfano will make his inaugural address as chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association on Tuesday. MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer"

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, “Gaetan Alfano will make his inaugural address as chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association on Tuesday. MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer”

The incoming chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association, in his initial address to members, says he will push for “civil Gideon” legislation in 2016. The move would be one a high-profile boost to the idea of providing free court-appointed legal representation to poor defendants facing certain civil matters, like home evictions or child custody issues. The term is taken from the famous 1963 decision, Gideon v. Wainwright, that established that people accused of crimes must have an attorney.

Chancellor Gaetan Alfano says the civil Gideon move will increase the Bar Association’s profile and illustrate relevancy to its membership, which has dropped in recent years.

In-depth Analysis of Silver Conviction Implications

CCM publisher, Sara Warner, writes an in-depth analysis of the Sheldon Silver conviction implications in her latest Huffington Post blog. Take a look!

Silver Misses The Silver Lining

Embattled NY Speaker of the House Sheldon Silver was reportedly one of New York’s most powerful politicians for two decades running. The emphasis is on “was.”

Following a three-week trial, the Huffington Post reports that on Monday a federal jury found Silver, 71, guilty of money laundering, extortion and fraud. He stood accused of, “abusing his office to collect as much as $4 million in illegal bribes and kickbacks.”

Allegedly, he joined the NY Governor and State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos in controlling virtually all legislation. Skelos faces his own trial in the same federal court.

Read more here.

‘Border Kids’ Immigration Influx Is Once Again On The Rise

AP photo used in Tampa Bay Times report on 12/22/14 shows "Young detainees sleep in a holding cell on June 18, 2014, at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility in Brownsville,Texas."

AP photo used in Tampa Bay Times report on 12/22/14 shows “Young detainees sleep in a holding cell on June 18, 2014, at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility in Brownsville,Texas.”

A Texas newspaper reports that the number of unaccompanied children being apprehended at the southern United States border – I’ve dubbed them “border kids” – is once again on the increase. Reporter Dylan Baddor at the Mount Pleasant Daily Tribune writes that in the Border Patrol’s Big Bend sector of Texas, “the number of unaccompanied children apprehended trying to enter the country during that period averaged 24 between 2010 and 2014. This year agents tallied 319.”

Statewide, says the report, 7,390 unaccompanied children were caught crossing in those two months, and 85 percent increase over the same period last year. The newspaper quotes Marc Rosenblum, a deputy director at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington D.C., saying that“… we’re clearly seeing a significant uptick.”
The Border Kids crisis became a national focus last year and prompted the Obama Administration to fast-track the cases, sometimes moving them to the “front of the line” in a backed-up immigration court system. Current estimates are that more than 450,000 cases are backlogged in the courts, which are actual civil procedures held as part of the U.S. Justice Department.
See the Daily Tribune story here: http://www.dailytribune.net/site/about.html