Access to Justice: Interpreters for the Deaf

The SC Access to Justice Commission is pleased to collaborate with the SC School for the Deaf and Blind (SCSDB), SC Court Administration, the SC Association of the Deaf (SCAD), the SC Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (SCRID), SC Legal Services (SCLS), the SC Bar Public Services Division, and Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities, Inc. (P&A) to ensure that all Deaf South Carolinians have equal access to the civil court system.

Part of that collaboration was to increase the number of qualified American Sign Language Interpreters in the courts. Well, as you may recall, last summer, the SCSDB partnered with Richland County to help 25 sign language interpreters work toward nationally recognized legal certification. And earlier this month, that’s exactly what occurred.

From January 6, 2011 through January 9, 2011, 25 sign language interpreters gathered in Richland County for “Foundations of Court Interpreting” by Carla Mathers, who is licensed to practice law in Maryland and D.C. and holds a Comprehensive Skills Certificate (CSC) and a Specialist Certificate:  Legal (SC:L) and has written a book about legal interpreting.

And the collaborators remain committed to providing quality sign language interpretation in the courts.

And many thanks to The State for its coverage of this topic!


Friday Wrap 5.29.09

All the week’s “atj” newsworthy items wrapped up

Friday Wrap Friday Wrap

Texas – Texas Access to Justice Commission and Foundation Recognize Major Contributors to Texas Legal Aid

Chicago, Illinois – ABA Invites Obama to it Annual Meeting

Washington, D.C. – 2nd ABA National Conference on Employment of Lawyers with Disabilities (Hurry for the EARLY BIRD special because after June 1st the registration increases)

United States Supreme Court – President Obama nominates Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the U.S. Supreme Court (For more news links, click here. For blog coverage, click here.)

Brooklyn, New York – A Call for Pro Bono at Boro Hall

Lexington, Kentucky – Interview with a True Change Agent

Nashville, Tennessee – New Legal Advice Clinic to Help with Debt Issues

Richmond, Virginia – LINC Recognizes Outstanding Volunteers

Public Justice Center – Donor Inspires Us with $10,000 Gift 

Ventura County, California – New County Program Helping Low-Income Families Adopt

 Winston-Salem, North Carolina – Practical Paralegalism: Paying it Forward

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – Credit Card Reforms Could Help Statements

Fairfield, Connecticut – Hard Times Force People Into Family Court “Solo”

Honolulu, Hawaii – Starn O’Toole Marcus & Fisher Supports Access to Justice Commission

Australia – Pro Bono Work Good for Law Students

New York, New York – Pro Bono Recruitment Drive

San Diego, California – Law Made Public: Legal Research Class for the Self-Represented Litigant


D.C. and Pro Bono: A Good Combo

When most people think of Washington, D.C., they think of politics. Well, D.C. attorneys are taking on another role, that of pro bono supporters.

The D.C. Bar has announced a new campaign to raise money and continued support for its Pro Bono Program.

Last year alone, the Pro Bono Program touched the lives of some 15,000 District residents

We wish them success with their campaign!


Denial of Services Becomes Deadly Barrier to Justice

University Legal Services, the protection and advocacy system for the District of Columbia, recently published a report about Mr. Johnson (alias) who died in February of this year. 

The tragedy of this story is that Mr. Johnson’s caregiver had initiated paperwork for services sometime between 2000 and 2001 – YEARS AGO! The initial request was denied. After the denial, additional requests were submitted resulting in additional barriers.

Finally in early 2007, Family and Child Services, Inc. (FCS) of Washington, D.C. was called in. FCS and Mr. Johnson’s court-appointed guardian sought services for Mr. Johnson – including emergency residential care.

On his own, Mr. Johnson was: 

  • unable to appropriately monitor his medications;
  • unable to properly clean and maintain his home; and
  • unable to observe proper bodily hygiene.

Mr. Johnson’s living conditions as relayed in the report A Deplorable Death  are astonishingly horrific.

The fact that CFS and his guardian were unable to secure appropriate residential care for him is abominable. The application for the emergency residential care was originally submitted in June 2007. After much delay, he was found eligible for services in November 2007 but the assessment for necessary services was not requested until January 2008. The assessment, dated February 12, 2008, revealed that Mr. Johnson was eligible for ICF-MR services.

NOTE: ICF-MR residential services are considered some of the most intensive services within the continuum of residential services for people with developmental disabilities. An ICF-MR offers 24 hour care and supervision.

On February 19, 2008, one week after being found eligible for ICF-MR services, Mr. Johnson was found unconscious in his apartment and was taken to a hospital.

Mr. Johnson never regained consciousness and died on February 23, 2008.

On February 29, 2008, Mr. Johnson’s guardian informed his DDA caseworker of Mr. Johnson’s death.

DDA then offered to pay for Mr. Johnson’s burial, through their burial assistance program.

Please take a moment to read about Mr. Johnson and consider the ramifications when someone is denied access to legal representation. The result may not be as severe, but let’s not take that chance. Support your local legal services entity, your local protection and advocacy system, your local Bar Foundation!

You may save a life.



SC Legal Services –

Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities, Inc. –

SC Bar Foundation –

Access to Justice in the NEWS

There are two articles today about access to justice.

The first is out of a fellow southern state, Tennessee. The Tennessee High Court has changed to a Female Majority – a first in the South. The article also recognizes the “current mantra of the state’s Supreme Court centers on access to justice.”

The second article comes out of the nation’s capitol – Washington, D.C.

The D.C. Access to Justice Commission released a report yesterday. It highlights a “125-page study found that poorer D.C. residents are not adequately represented in a variety of proceedings.