USA – Study Finds Gaps in Aid for Non-English Speakers in State Civil Courts


5 August, 2009


When Maythe Ramirez went to Superior Court in Contra Costa, California, for a child custody hearing in 2006, she wanted to tell the judge that her husband beat her and should not be allowed broad visitation rights. The court did not provide an interpreter for her, however, and Ms. Ramirez, who speaks almost no English, could not follow the arcane proceeding, much less participate.

“It is really as if you are doing nothing in court,” she said in Spanish through an interpreter, “standing still and not being able to explain what’s really happening.”

Ms. Ramirez, who came to the United States from Mexico, later divorced her husband and had the visitation rules modified with the help of a lawyer from Bay Area Legal Aid, who got her interpreters for other hearings.

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Interpreting, Translation

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