Expanding Access to Justice in California Courts for Limited English Proficient Litigants

This policy lab offers recommendations to the California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Associate Justice Maria Rivera of the First District Court of Appeal, and members of the California Judicial Council to increase access to justice for limited English proficient (LEP) court users. The project interacts with the process of the Joint Working Group for California’s Language Access Plan and assist development of a response to a U.S. Department of Justice notice that certain Court policies and procedures may be inconsistent with Title VI of the Civil Right Act of 1964 and its implementing regulations. Numerous state and local laws are also implicated by a potential lack of access for LEP litigants. The California Commission on Access to Justice estimates that well over 7 million Californians (almost 20% of our state’s population) “cannot access the courts without significant language assistance, cannot understand pleadings, forms or other legal documents and cannot participate meaningfully in court proceedings.” Through fieldwork, literature review, legal research, and interviews with relevant participants and stakeholders students will identify challenges facing LEP litigants. Students will interview and consult with such parties as the Chief Justice, appellate court judges, state bar leaders and other attorneys, members of the Language Access Task Force of California, and individual stakeholders to develop recommendations for potential reform options, including whether the use of such technologies as video remote interpreting (VRI) can expand access to justice for LEP litigants.

Students will be asked to produce written materials and make oral presentations to California judges, Judicial Council staff, and others at meetings at each quarter. This policy lab will be offered Fall 2014 and Winter 2015. We encourage students to participate both quarters if they are able to do so.

Instructors

Diane Chin

Diane Chin

  • Associate Dean for Public Service and Public Interest Law
  • Acting Director of the Stanford Center for Racial Justice
  • Lecturer in Law

Clients & Deliverables

Clients:

Deliverables:

  • Oral Briefing
  • Legal and Policy Report

This practicum offered recommendations to California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Associate Justice Maria Rivera (First District Court of Appeal), Hon. Manuel Cavarrubius (California Superior Court, County of Ventura), and members of the California Judicial Council to increase access to justice for limited English proficient (LEP) court users. The project interacts with the process of the Joint Working Group for California’s Language Access Plan and assists development of a response to a U.S. Department of Justice notice that certain Court policies and procedures may be inconsistent with Title VI of the Civil Right Act of 1964 and its implementing regulations.