East Hawaii News

State Judiciary Improves Language Assistance

March 24, 2015, 10:48 AM HST
* Updated March 24, 10:56 AM
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A collaboration between the Hawai’i State Judiciary and the Department of Justice is helping to better meet the needs of court users who require language assistance services in court proceedings and operations.

The Judiciary updated and broadened its Language Assistance Policy during its technical assistance agreement period with the Department of Justice.

“I commend the Hawai’i Judiciary for its proactive efforts to provide all communities with equal access to justice regardless of the language they speak,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division.  “The results we are seeing in Hawai’i are a testament to what collaboration and cooperation can achieve.  Hawai’i knows its work is not done, and we welcome the opportunity to continue to provide assistance whenever needed.”

During its 2013 fiscal year, the Judiciary provided interpreter services in more than 8,000 proceedings. Among the language assistance services are over-the-counter and over-the-telephone encounters for all business related to Judiciary.

“We are committed to providing the best services we can for court users who do not speak English as their first language,” said Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald. “The Hawai`i State Judiciary provides services to persons with limited English proficiency in all case types at no charge. I am proud of the progress we have made.”

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With help from a Department of Justice grant, the Office of Equality and Access to the Courts provided Judiciary staff with Interpreter Skills Building workshops that developed staff members’ skills and competency of state court interpreters.

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In addition, the Judiciary also implemented an awareness campaign that would increase the public’s knowledge about how to access language services. The Judiciary’s webpage now has a dedicated Language Access area where the public can review tips on going to court, how to request a court interpreter, self-help centers, and language ID cards.

Fourteen of the most frequently used languages are translated to better assist court users.

“We are thankful for the leadership, support and guidance from the Department of Justice,” said Debi Tulang-De Silva, OEAC Program Director. “We look forward to continuing to work with the DOJ as we move forward to ensure meaningful access to court operations.”

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