What Does the Intersection of Language, Culture, and Immigration Status Mean For Limited English Proficiency Assistance in the State Courts?
Martin, John A. Weller, Steven. Lederach, Angie. Yoder, Jeff. Price, David A.
Center for Public Policy Studies. State Justice Institute. Immigration and the State Courts Initiative.
Published: October 2, 2012
This report begins by noting that over the next decade, hundreds of thousands of people living in the United States are going to need language assistance when they appear in State courts either as litigants, victims, witnesses, or jurors. Following an introduction that reviews immigration trends and expectations for court language assistance, Section 2 examines how contemporary thinking and research about procedural justice provides a framework for helping to address the implications on the State courts of the complicated nexus of language/culture/immigration status. The implications of the language, culture, and immigration status nexus on language access and litigant assistance in the courts is reviewed and reveals courts need to consider providing both language and cultural assistance to help litigants navigate the complexity of courts. Section 3 presents conclusions and emphasizes three things should be included in court efforts to improve access to justice and procedural fairness for limited English proficient participants, while also meeting the high standards for language assistance outlined by the U.S Department of Justice and the American Bar Association: courts should not focus on addressing language issues alone if they are interested in assuring access to justice; efforts to improve language access in the courts must simultaneously include efforts to become increasingly culturally competent and immigration status sensitive; and practitioners need better tools and supporting organizational and community infrastructure to help them assist individuals, regardless of their particular ethnic/national culture and immigration status. 4 figures and 16 references. (Author abstract modified)
immigrants; courts; cultural competency