Bill Expanding Language Access Services Within State Court System Awaits Action by Governor

Hueso’s SB 1155 would allow small claims courts to provide interpreters to Limited English Proficient court users
September 06, 2018

Sacramento, CA – September 6, 2018 – Last week the California State Legislature approved Senate Bill No. 1155 by Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), which seeks to improve access to justice for thousands of Californians by expanding language access services within the state court system. To promote this objective, the legislation would allow small claims courts in California to provide interpreters to Limited English Proficient (LEP) court users during any and all court proceedings.

SB 1155 eliminates many of the provisions of existing law that serve as an impediment to full interpreter access in small claims court proceedings.  For the purposes of interpreter services, this bill would treat small claims matters like all other civil matters, thereby ensuring access to interpreter funding and providing improved access to interpreter services for all court users while the Judicial Council and the courts continue to work to train and deploy interpreters across California.

“Access to the courts for all Californians is critical to ensure the legitimacy of our judicial system, and the trust and confidence of Californians in our courts,” said Senator Hueso. “Without meaningful language access, Californians who speak limited English are effectively denied access to the very laws created to protect their rights.”

Currently, more than 220 languages and dialects are spoken in California, and 44 percent of residents speak a language other than English at home. Nearly seven million Californians are referred to as Limited English Proficient.

“California’s incredible diversity is one of the state’s greatest assets but it also presents some unique communication challenges,” said Senator Hueso. “Without proper language assistance, LEP court users may be excluded from meaningful participation in the judicial court process.”

Senator Hueso further explains the legislation in a video clip available here: