Tuesday, December 3, 2013

State Courts Must Now Provide Interpreters

By:  Carole L. Chiamp
The Michigan Supreme Court created a new court rule which requires all courts in the state to provide foreign language interpreters when needed for those who cannot comprehend English.

The Michigan Supreme Court was forced to face the issue after various cases came to light in which justice was denied due to lack of an interpreter.  In some cases abusive spouses were interpreting for an abused spouse.

Under the new rule, non-English speakers who need them must pay for them if they make more than 25% of the federal poverty level which would be $29,437 for a family of four.  The Justice Department is objecting to the portion of the rule which deals with the financial aspect.  Barbara McQuade, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, said she was concerned that making people close to poverty to pay for an interpreter may have “a chilling effect on those who would not otherwise access the courts if they’re on the hook for an interpreter...”  The Justice Department will continue its investigation to be sure the new rule does not discriminate on the basis of national origin or other protected classes.

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