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Improvements in Language Access in the Courts, 2009 to 2012

By Matthew Longobardi & Laura K. Abel

The federal government and many states have improved courtroom access for limited-English-proficient litigants over the last few years. The U.S. Department of Justice has been very helpful in prompting the states to improve their programs. Advocates have also been instrumental in improving access; public interest lawyers, pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, have filed complaints that have given states extra motivation to fix problems quickly. Most state regimes still need improvement, but many are coming closer to the goal: a competent, free interpreter for every litigant who needs one in a civil or criminal case.

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