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Latino Daily News

Tuesday May 24, 2011

Nonprofits File Suit Against North Carolina Courts, Saying Lack of Interpreters Is Illegal

Nonprofits File Suit Against North Carolina Courts, Saying Lack of Interpreters Is Illegal

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A federal complaint filed against North Carolina’s courts state that they are violating the rights of those who do not speak English by not providing free interpreter in civil cases.

Charlotte, North Carolina’s Latin American Coalition, Muslim American Society, and Vietnamese Society have come together in asking the U.S. Department of Justice to put an end to what they believe to be discrimination in the state’s courts.

Though indigent defendants in criminal case are provided interpreters by the state, limited-English speakers in civil court proceedings are not and often do not understand what is being said.

Last year, President Obama issued a warning stating that states that don’t provide interpreters in all cases, both civil and criminal, they would be in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

New York University’s Brenna Center for Justice released a study in 2009 that revealed that 50 percent of the 35 states examined did not require interpreters to be provided in civil cases.

Advocate for greater immigration restrictions Ron Woodard agrees that courts should provide interpreters for all citizens who need it, as well as for undocumented immigrants facing charges, but says tax dollars should not be used to provide interpreters for the undocumented involved in civil cases.

“If people are here illegally and it’s not a criminal case, they ought to go back to their home country to sort out their problems,” Woodard said. “And if they’re going to sort it out here, they ought to at least pay for their own interpreter.”