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
Committee 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
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…
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