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!

-RFW

LEP Case in Maryland

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, October 5, 2009

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Aeda Chung, Marketing Coordinator
202.393.3572 x 32; aeda.chung@apalrc.org
Nadia Firozvi, Staff Attorney
202.393.3572 x 23; nadia.firozvi@apalrc.org

Maryland Court of Appeals to Hear Oral Arguments Concerning Legal Rights of Limited English Proficient Litigants

(Annapolis, Maryland)  The highest state court of Maryland will hear oral arguments on Tuesday, October 6, 2009, concerning the legal rights of limited English proficient litigants.  The Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center (Center), joined by CASA de Maryland and the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Ms. Nonceeya, a Thai speaking and limited English proficient immigrant, in the matter of Nonceeya v. Lone Star Steakhouse.  The Public Justice Center is acting as co-counsel in this appeal.The Center’s brief provided the necessary contextual information about the limited English proficient community and the Maryland judiciary’s responsibilities under the law as language barriers continue to prevent limited English proficient (LEP) litigants from accessing courts.

Ms. Nonceeya had worked at Lone Star Steakhouse for just over two years and filed a national-origin employment discrimination complaint against Lone Star’s managers and staff.  She filed this complaint in the Montgomery County Circuit Court against her former employer without the assistance of an attorney, and requested the assistance of an interpreter at all court proceedings, which was granted by the Circuit Court. Lone Star Steakhouse, however, failed to provide an interpreter during a deposition that lasted for three days in English. The deposition later served as a basis for the Circuit Court’s decision as the court granted Lone Star’s motion for summary judgment.

The Center urges the Court of Appeals to ensure access to justice for all Maryland residents, regardless of language ability.  The Center’s experience with advancing the legal and civil rights of hundreds of limited English proficient Asian immigrants underscores the need to provide interpretation in court proceedings.

The Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center is the Capital Region’s nonprofit advocate advancing the legal and civil rights of Asian Pacific Americans through direct services, education, and advocacy.

The Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center
D.C. Office      1600 K Street, NW, Mezzanine Level, Washington, D.C. 20006
♦ Helpline:  202.393.3572                     Fax: 202.393.0995

Main: Ext. 22
Chinese: Ext. 18
Hindi/Urdu: Ext. 19
Vietnamese: Ext. 20
Korean: Ext. 21

Maryland Office 11141 Georgia Avenue, Suite 215, Silver Spring, MD 20902

♦ Phone: 301.942.2223

APALRC: Ensuring Access to Justice for Asian Pacific Americans Since 1998
http://www.apalrc.org

Many Thanks to Claudia Johnson for pointing us to this!
-RFW

SC Appleseed in the NEWS!

Another SC Access to Justice Commissioner has news or should I say is IN the news today. Sue Berkowitz, the SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center Executive Director, was quoted in the prestigious Wall Street Journal.

Sue B - doing what she does best

The story? Numbers on Welfare See Sharp Increase. Excerpt from the story:

Twenty-three of the 30 largest states, which account for more than 88% of the nation’s total population, see welfare caseloads above year-ago levels, according to a survey conducted by The Wall Street Journal and the National Conference of State Legislatures. As more people run out of unemployment compensation, many are turning to welfare as a stopgap.

South Carolina is one of the “leading” states – in which welfare cases have increased from +10% to +30% over last year’s rates. Other states with sharp increases include California, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, OhioOregon, and Washington.

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On another note, we noted that the SC Appleseed Legal Justice website has a new look too. And we like it!

-RFW

Maryland’s Foreclosure Prevention

If you are looking for Foreclosure Prevention assistance in Maryland, help is available online at http://www.mdhope.org/ or http://www.probonomd.org/foreclosure.html. To call for a referral to a housing counseling agency or a volunteer lawyer, call the Maryland Home Owners Preserving Equity hotline at 1-877-462-7555.

-RFW

In Maryland 75% of Family Law Disputes Involve Self-Represented Litigants

According to a recent article in The Daily Record, 3 out of 4 family law disputes involve at least one self-represented party. In South Carolina, we are continuing to gather statistics but it’s likely that our numbers are similar. And in the current economic climate, it’s likely that these numbers will continue to increase.

The South Carolina Access to Justice (SCATJ) Commission has been addressing this issue from the Court’s standpoint, by training judges and working with clerks of court. In addition, the SCATJ Commission has been working with Court Administration to develop forms and instructions for self-represented litigants (SRLs). We’ve sent delegations to two conferences and started work groups as a result.

SCATJ has spoken with recognized SRL experts such as Richard Zorza and John Greacen as well as others. Commissioners have been inspired by New Hampshire Chief Justice John T. Broderick.

SCATJ has been reviewing information from other states about ways that their public law libraries assist with SRLs. SCATJ has been working with legal partners including South Carolina Legal Services and the South Carolina Bar to develop videos and other instructional packets for SRLs as well as find ways to increase legal representation to South Carolinians who cannot afford it.

The primary goal is to provide attorney representation for all. Attorneys provide not only good legal advice, but sensible counsel as well. Attorneys are trained to review the issue from many angles and provide information that allows individuals to make well-reasoned decisions.

Until attorneys for all becomes a reality, the SCATJ Commission is resolved to decrease barriers for people to represent themselves. The SCATJ Commission has a dedicated SRL Committee whose sole purpose is to address this issue. We welcome your ideas. Please feel free to post.

– RFW