Law School for Interpreters: A Success!

Bright and early Saturday morning, 77 people were driving into downtown Columbia to attend the SC Access to Justice Commission’s LEP Work Group “Law School for Interpreters.”

Meanwhile, the sponsors were all busy opening the facility and readying the room and registration tables for each of these interpreters.

At 8:45 a.m., seats filled and the LEP Work Group provided an overview of the day and the program began.

The Agenda:

  • Registration and Breakfast 8:00 a.m.
  • Welcome & Overview 8:45 a.m.
  • Pretest 9:00 a.m.
  • “Oh the Places You Can Go and the People You Can Meet” (Overview of the SC Judicial System) 9:15 a.m.
  • South Carolina State Court Interpreter Certification Program 9:45 a.m.
  • BREAK
  • Circuit Court 10:30 a.m.
  • Family Court 11:15 a.m.
  • Magistrates Court 12:00 noon
  • Catered Lunch
  • Court Process 1:45 p.m.
  • BREAK
  • Panel Discussion & Q&A: Reality Check 3:15 p.m.
  • Post-test, Wrap-Up, & Evaluation 4:45 p.m.

The excitement in the room was palpable. Interpreters greeted one another with hugs, and sometimes questions of “which language do you speak?” And the excitement was not limited to interpreters and translators. Many of the event sponsors were thrilled with the turn-out, especially on a Saturday. Languages represented included Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, Chinese, French, and Urdu as well as a few others.

And we’re all excited about the prospect of an additional pool of qualified and certified interpreters and translators in the South Carolina Court System.

Thanks again to our sponsors, speakers, and participants!

~RFW

Want to Interpret in the South Carolina Courts?

Join us on Saturday, February 11, 2012!

Cost: $35 – includes breakfast, lunch, snacks and materials! Pay by check or Discover, Visa or MasterCard.

Program begins promptly at 8:45 a.m. and ends at 5:00 p.m.

Space is limited and preference is given to South Carolina residents.

Registration MUST be post-marked no later than Friday, February 3, 2012. No refunds for cancellations received after Friday, January 27, 2012.

For more information, please email ccoker@scbar.org or call Robin Wheeler at (803) 576-3808.

At our recent SC Access to Justice Commission meeting, we had a guest speaker who presented on Language Access and the growing need for language access in the civil court system.

And, while many of us understand the laws that govern language access, especially in the legal system, the fact still remains that in order to provide qualified interpreters, these qualified interpreters must be available and accessible.

Most everyone I’ve spoken with has noted that we need more qualified interpreters. We simply do not have the numbers of qualified interpreters.

During our preliminary conversations, we learned that while there is a general interest to interpret, many in the interpretation community were unfamiliar with legal terminology and courtroom decorum. And, interpreters were hesitant to pay to take the South Carolina Court Interpreter exam without at least an introduction to the legal system in South Carolina.

As a result, Law School for Interpreters was created.

I’m pleased to introduce the Law School for Interpreters which will be held on Saturday, February 11, 2012. We have a great line-up of speakers including attorneys and at least one judge. The sponsors for the event have all been working together with the Commission as we try to increase the number of qualified courtroom and legal interpreters.

If you, or someone you know, is interested in this course, please complete and return the registration form – Registration for Law School for Interpreters Feb 11 2012.

I look forward to seeing you there!

~RFW

The GOOD Lawyer

Request for Attorney Denied

Imagine this scenario:

Child is removed by SC DSS from a single parent home due to allegations of child abuse or neglect.  Single parent, a mother, is working, but making very little and falling well within the federal poverty guidelines.

Child is assigned an attorney Guardian ad Litem (GAL) to represent the child in court. The GAL, whether attorney, SC Volunteer GAL Program or Richland County CASA volunteer, looks out for the child’s best interest.

Mother cannot afford an attorney.

At the first SC DSS hearing, Mother asks the court to provide her with an attorney. The attorney GAL walks with Mother to the Clerk of Court’s office to help her fill out paperwork to apply for a court-appointed attorney. The clerk asks Mother for the $40 fee to accompany the application. Mother does not have $40 to pay the fee. Mother does not have $20 to pay the fee. The attorney GAL asks if the clerk can make an exception and waive the fee. The clerk refuses to waive the fee. Mother has no attorney.

The attorney GAL is concerned. She is aware that Mother cannot afford an attorney, and that this is a serious legal issue; one in which there is potential for Mother to lose custody of her child. And Mother is unrepresented.

Do you think this is FAIR? Do you think this is JUSTICE?

What if I tell you that this scenario is real? Does that change your mind?

Well, it is based on a similar real-life situation.

Fact Recap: Child taken from single parent – Mother – based on allegation of abuse and neglect. Mother works, but does not make a lot of money. Mother shows in court unrepresented. Mother tries to get attorney appointed WITH assistance from attorney representing her child. The Mother is still not able to get an attorney to represent her because she CANNOT pay $40 filing fee and is unable to get a waiver.

What happens next?

Attorney representing Mother followed up. She contacted several people, none of whom were judges, to see if anything could be done to waive the fee. She was given a contact name and followed up. Mother will be receiving a court appointed attorney.

Does this mean Mother will prevail?

Not sure. It will depend on the facts of the case and adherence to any treatment plans or court orders.

Does it mean that the GAL thinks the child should have stayed in the home?

I don’t know. Honestly I didn’t ask the question. Either way though, the Mother is in the midst of a crisis. Her child has been removed from her home. It’s likely that she is (choose one:) distraught/embarrassed/angry/other emotion . As I’ve noted on numerous occasions, when emotions are high, it sometimes takes away our ability to reason or rationally make an argument or listen to court proceedings. An attorney provides a buffer for the emotional client, and makes the proceedings more well-reasoned.

So? Why are you bringing up this issue?

Because I so often hear that attorneys are just *blankety-blank bottom-feeders* AND I know better. And this is a perfect example of that. This attorney went beyond her ethical duty to ensure that the Mother in a case receives legal assistance.

Unfortunately I won’t give more details or name the attorney because this is an on-going case and I don’t want to identify anyone or give away confidences. Suffice it to say that this attorney will hold a dear place in my heart.

Thank you anonymous attorney!

-RFW

Resource Friday/Viernes de recursos

Resource Friday/Viernes de Recursos
Resource Friday/Viernes de Recursos

If you are a South Carolina parent under investigation by the SC Department of Social Services (SC DSS) for child abuse or neglect, it is likely that you have already received a copy of this informative booklet.

However, if you haven’t OR if you are a family member, other interested person OR law student interested in the process, then you may be interested to know that this information is available online in English AND in Spanish.

The information is written in Plain English (you know we’re a fan of that) and provides definitions, defines the investigative process including Initial Report and Investigation, Emergency Protective Custody,  The Probable Cause or 72-Hour Hearing,  Merits or Removal Hearing, Intervention Hearing, Permanency Planning HearingTermination of Parental Rights and offers tips for parents under investigation.

Para información en español:

And the information is current at least as of this writing.

Thanks to both SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center and the Children’s Law Center for pulling together this valuable information!

-RFW

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month!

To view a copy of President Obama’s Proclamation Marking April 2009 as National Child Abuse Prevention Month, click here.

South Carolina Resources include:

  1. Children’s Trust of South Carolina
  2. South Carolina Department of Social Services
  3. Prevent Child Abuse of South Carolina
  4. Voices for South Carolina’s Children
  5. South Carolina Parent Information & Resource Centers

National Resources include:

  1. The Child Welfare Information Gateway
  2. Prevent Child Abuse of America
  3. Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-4-A-CHILD or 1-800-422-4453)
  4. The National Children’s Advocacy Center
  5. Child Abuse Prevention Network

-RFW