As privately hired court interpreters keep encountering issues in state court, our attorneys keep working on getting a meeting with Tani Cantil-Sakauye, the chair of the Judicial Council of California, to bring this matter to her attention.

In the meantime and in response to our attorneys’ request to produce any public records that might be used as a basis to prevent privately hired interpreters from interpreting in court, the Los Angeles courts produced a PowerPoint presentation consisting of 187 slides, none of which explain the reason behind this policy. Of particular interest to us were the following records:

Record 30 states that “27+ requests for Spanish unmet per average court day in L.A./540 per month” (which begs the obvious question: if this is so, then why are privately hired certified court interpreters sometimes not allowed to interpret?)

Record 162 (“Guidelines For Effective Use Of Court Interpreters – Civil Cases, Securing an Interpreter”) indicates that: “Only court certified or registered interpreters can assist parties and witnesses with limited English proficiency (LEP) during court proceedings: Govt. Code Section 68561. The party calling an LEP witness must secure and compensate certified/registered court interpreters. At this time, the Court does not provide interpreters to LEP litigants in civil cases outside of unlawful detainer matters. It is the responsibility of the party or attorney who needs interpreter services to determine if a certified or registered interpreter must be provided by them at their cost.” (So totally contradictory to the policy of not allowing privately hired certified court interpreters from interpreting in civil cases).

On the other hand and after more than six months of back and forth with our attorneys, Orange County still hasn’t produced any records and its general counsel, Jeff Wertheimer, has advised that doing so would cost AIJIC $42,000. This amount, aside from outrageous, is most likely unlawful since it would go against the spirit of the law that allows access to public records, which is why the AIJIC board is looking into suing the Orange County courts.

We will pursue communication with Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye’s office with the goal of conveying all this to her and to request that she directs the Los Angeles and Orange County courts to cease these troubling practices.

We’ll keep you updated.