Ga. Supreme Court Justices urge the use of qualified intepreters in court at GLSP-sponsored CLE

Jana E-C and Justice Melton

GLSP Bilingual Staff Attorney Jana Edmondson-Cooper turns mic over to Justice Harold Melton

Atlanta, February 26, 2014 – Two Georgia Supreme Court Justices and several superior court judges lent support to the idea that “equal justice for all” includes providing language access to the courts through well-qualified interpreters to people with limited English, as well as those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Justices Harold Melton and Keith Blackwell both spoke at a Continuing Legal Education Session on Feb. 20 at John Marshall Law School in Atlanta, sponsored by Georgia Legal Services Program, the Southern Center for Human Rights, the State Bar of Georgia Access to Justice

picCommittee and the Supreme Court of Georgia Commission on Interpreters, among others. Justice Melton is stepping down as chair of the Commission on Interpreters and Justice Blackwell is taking over the chairmanship. The Justices spoke of the need not only for certified interpreters proficient in a number of languages, but also for well-qualified interpreters who understand legal terminology and their obligation to protect the confidentiality of their clients. Judges from rural areas of Georgia spoke about the difficulty of making sure qualified interpreters are available, especially in cases where parties are low-income and the court is obliged to pay for language services.

Georgia Legal Services Program, which serves low-income Georgians in civil matters in 154 counties outside Metro Atlanta, has made language access a major priority in its service to Limited English Proficiency clients, as well as to clients who are deaf or hard of hearing. GLSP staff members were among the leaders in planning for and presenting the CLE. GLSP Litigation Director Lisa Krisher and

GLSlP Director of Litigation spoke about the Legal Underpinnings for Language Access

GLSlP Director of Litigation spoke about the Legal Underpinnings for Language Access

Bilingual Staff Attorney Jana Edmondson-Cooper spoke at the CLE about the importance of providing interpretation services and on how interpreters must be highly trained to be effective.

The CLE also included discussions of “Legal Underpinnings for Language Accesss,” “Cultural Competency,” “Best Practices for Working with Interpreters: From Client Intake to the Bench,” and “Ethical Considerations When Representing Limited English Proficient and Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing Clients.”

To look at the detailed materials from the CLE, please click here…

Legal Underpinnings for Language Access

GLSP Director of Litigation Lisa Krisher, Administrative Office of the Courts Director Marla Moore, Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge Gail Tusan, District Court Administrator of Fulton County Supeiror Court Yolanda Lewis, Bibb County Superior Court Chief Judge Tilman E. Self, III, DeKalb County State Court Judge Dax Lopez on panel on Legal Underpinnings for Language Access: A Stakeholders Panel Discussion

The Supreme Court of Georgia put information about the CLE up on the court’s website at: http://www.gasupreme.us/press_releases/melton.php

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Justice Melton answers questions from GLSP on language access in the courts

Can a defendant in a civil case who cannot speak English effectively participate in her court case without a trained interpreter? Are courts required to provide trained interpreters? Can a judge summon a bilingual clerk to assist?
Georgia Legal Services Program bilingual attorney Jana J. Edmondson-Cooper recently interviewed Georgia Supreme Court Justice Harold D. Melton to work through some of those questions and discuss his passion for improving access to justice among those who speak limited or no English or have other communication challenges, such as hearing impairment.
Click below to see the entire interview in The Daily Report
PDF Justice Melton in DR

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Latino Outreach and Education Initiative Map

Georgia Legal Services Program has several lawyers and paralegals dedicated to serving clients with Limited English Proficiency. Please see below for links to maps in English and Spanish showing where those professionals are based and which counties they serve.

Latino Outreach and Education Initiative English Version

Latino Outreach and Education Initiative Spanish Version

For more information on the Latino Outreach and Education Initiative, please click here.

 

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Secrets & Stilettos: Saving Our Sisters Domestic Violence Awareness Event

Big Shoe GirlsOn September 7th 2013, more than 200 women and girls came together to discuss domestic violence, teen dating violence and sexual exploitation of girls. Sponsored by GLSP’s Macon Regional Office and other partners, the event was an opportunity to bring up hard questions in a safe and comfortable environment. Stopping and preventing violence against women is the mission of the event, which was the second annual Secrets & Stilettos gathering. Click here to view a video of the highlights.

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GLSP’s Krisher wins major award for service to low-income Georgians

Lisa Krisher Low Income Advocacy Image

Lisa J. Krisher, litigation director of Georgia Legal Services Program, has been awarded the Kutak-Dodds Prize by the National Legal Aid & Defender Association. The prestigious Kutak-Dodds Prize annually honors a public interest attorney who has “significantly contributed to the human dignity and quality of life of individuals unable to afford legal representation.” It comes with a $10,000 check.

The Kutak-Dodds Prize will be presented to Krisher on Sept. 19, 2013, in Washington, D.C. at a dinner at which NLADA will also present awards to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and to Senior Vice President and General Counsel for UPS Teri Plummer McClure.

A 1978 graduate of Antioch School of Law in Washington D.C., Krisher came directly to GLSP to begin her career. She became litigation director in 1990. A resident of Augusta, Krisher supervises high-impact litigation and other advocacy initiatives by attorneys at GLSP, a non-profit law firm representing low-income Georgians in civil matters in 154 counties outside the metro-Atlanta area. With ten regional offices around the state, GLSP’s mission is to provide access to justice and opportunities out of poverty for residents of rural and small-town Georgia. Some of GLSP’s funding comes through the Legal Services Corporation.

GLSP Executive Director Phyllis Holmen said Krisher deserves the nationally recognized honor “for her personal vision and commitment; her work to meet client needs under the most challenging circumstances; her innovative solutions to barriers to the delivery of legal services to the poor in the rural south; and the statewide and national impact of her work as an advocate, leader, supervisor, teacher, and role model, all done in the context of a rural southern state with entrenched generational poverty and ongoing civil rights issues.”

Holmen continued, “It has been my personal privilege and delight to work with Lisa for these many years, and I am grateful for all she has done for justice in Georgia and fighting for equality, opportunity, and the elimination of poverty.”

Krisher played a key role in developing GLSP’s Farmworker Rights Division, nationally recognized as one of the best legal-aid programs for itinerant agricultural workers, of whom Georgia has about 100,000, many still working in unsafe and abusive conditions. The Division has secured hundreds of thousands of dollars of back wages for workers, improved working conditions and secured better labor practices on the part of growers.

She also spearheaded GLSP’s effort to serve non-English speaking clients by developing a crew of Spanish-speaking attorneys across the state, as well as a Spanish intake line for GLSP, so clients with limited English may tell their stories in their native language and be understood. She has also guided efforts by GLSP to make sure interpreters are available in all legal proceedings, including those that don’t happen in a courtroom. (GLSP is prohibited from representing undocumented persons.)

And, filing federal civil rights complaints and pressing state-level administrators, Krisher forced change by the state of Georgia in how food stamp fraud cases are prosecuted, ultimately changing the way the state pursues those cases. The state had been scheduling more than 100 hearings a day in which food stamp recipients were threatened with criminal prosecution if they did not sign waivers of their rights and agreements to pay back the amount they had received in food stamps. Most of the recipients had done nothing more than buy food at the only store within walking distance of their homes. In one major case involving hundreds of recipients, the grocer was ultimately prosecuted rather than the recipients, thanks to GLSP’s efforts.

In 1997, Krisher was awarded the Dan Bradley Award from the State Bar of Georgia, recognizing her dedication, accomplishments and contributions to the cause of justice for all.

 

 

 

 

 

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GLSP works extensively with domestic violence issues

Do you need the help of a lawyer in your own domestic violence case? Call the regional GLSP office nearest you. To find it, click here

Do you need someone from Georgia Legal Services to speak to your community group about family violence or teen dating violence? Click here…

Is teen dating violence a problem in your family or community? For a shareable public service announcement click here… For someone to help with your case or speak to your community, call the regional GLSP office nearest you. To find it, click here

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