U.S. Department of Justice representatives will visit California this month as part of an ongoing investigation into whether the state's courts are violating federal laws for failing to provide interpreters in many civil and family law cases.
The investigation stems from a December 2010 complaint filed by the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles on behalf of two litigants who were not provided with Korean interpreters for their court hearings. The complaint alleges that in failing to provide the interpreters, the courts violated Title VI of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits national origin discrimination.
These cases “are just two examples of many LAFLA (Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles) clients who have been denied access to the courts based on their limited-English proficiency,” according to the complaint.
One of the Southern California litigants described in the complaint is a then-72-year-old woman on a fixed income who filed for a restraining order against an apartment maintenance worker she said groped her and exposed himself to her.
In October 2010, she went to the Los Angeles County Superior Court and filed a written request asking it to waive the fees for an interpreter but was denied because there "is no right to an interpreter provided at public expense in a civil case,” according to the complaint.