Ohio Supreme Court enhancements to interpreter access

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor announced a major new program to ensure that those who need a foreign or sign language interpreter in court are provided with one, in her annual State of the Judiciary Address at the Ohio Judicial Conference in Columbus last Thursday, Sept. 12th.

“Ohio courts accommodate approximately 80 languages and handle more than 25,000 cases a year that require interpreters,” the Chief Justice was quotes as saying by the Court’s news service in her address to state judges. “State and federal law require that courts ensure the people in these cases can understand the proceedings, and  I’m very excited about these tools that we have been able to bring together for Ohio to ensure equal access to our courtrooms, and thank you for your continued help as we work together to address this important issue.”

Elements of that new program being “embarked on as a major effort to assist you in this area as well as to educate and inform courts and the general public about the issues surrounding court interpretation include:

•Production  a bench card that will be distributed to all judges to provide additional guidance in handling these cases. In fact, copies of the bench card are available here today at a table in the lobby.

•The making of a training video for judges and court personnel that explains Rule 88 and how to achieve compliance. Look for a notice about the availability of the video online in the coming weeks.

•The  preparing of a Web site, brochures, posters and other material that will be made available to you for display in your courthouses to inform litigants and others about rights and responsibilities in the area of language proficiency in the courts.

•And finally, perhaps the most effective tool to assist in this area -- a language telephone line that you will be able to connect with live interpreters when needed and appropriate.

ofree, round-the-clock, over-the-phone interpreting service offers interpreting in more than 200 languages.
oThe remote interpretation service is intended to operate just as though the interpreter is standing in the courtroom by communicating with the litigant about the judge’s instructions or relaying questions from and answers to the prosecution or defense.
oThe right to a fair trial requires that all participants are fully involved and fully aware of what’s occurring. By providing this service, we are ensuring that every citizen – including those who are limited English proficient – understand fully the court proceedings in which they are involved and truly have their day in court.
oSupport in your job to fulfill this important obligation and in complying with the Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Rule 88, and other statutory requirements.