Chief Justice: Supreme Court to Offer Support for Court Interpretation
Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor today announced a major new program to ensure that those who need a foreign language or sign language interpreter in court are provided with one.
She made the announcement in her annual State of the Judiciary Address at the Ohio Judicial Conference in Columbus.
“Ohio courts accommodate approximately 80 languages and handle more than 25,000 cases per year that require interpreters,” Chief Justice O’Connor said. “State and federal law require that courts ensure the people in these cases can understand the proceedings.”
The new program includes:
- A statewide language line that will enable courts to connect with live interpreters.
- A bench reference card that will be distributed to all Ohio judges to provide guidance in handling cases that require an interpreter.
- A training video for judges and court personnel that explains Ohio’s interpretation rule and how to achieve compliance.
- A public information campaign that will include a website, brochures, posters and other material to inform litigants and others about rights and responsibilities in the area of language proficiency in the courts.
“I am 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,” Chief Justice O’Connor told Ohio’s judges.
In addition to the court interpreters initiative, Chief Justice O’Connor also detailed her eight-point plan to strengthen judicial elections in Ohio, which she said would empower Ohio voters and support the highest quality judiciary possible. Among the ideas in the plan is a proposal that all judicial elections might be held during odd-numbered years.
“During presidential and mid-term elections, races for the judiciary get lost in the shuffle. The judiciary competes for attention with partisan candidates for the president, senate, congress, governor, and others who are able to shout their messages while we as judicial candidates are only able to whisper,” Chief Justice O’Connor said.
Details on the Chief’s plan to strengthen judicial elections are available at www.OhioCourts2013.org.
The chief justice concluded her speech by recognizing several courts and judges across Ohio who have demonstrated innovative programs throughout the year including a collaborative venture in Lucas County involving two juvenile court judges, the child welfare system, and schools called “Pathways to Success” who received a $500,000 grant in May to improve the educational outcomes of youth in foster care. She also applauded Cuyahoga, Hamilton, and Lucas county common pleas courts judges for voting to take their commercial dockets from the pilot stage to a permanent program.
The annual State of the Judiciary Address traditionally is delivered at the annual meeting of the Ohio Judicial Conference, and this year’s meeting included a celebration of the organization’s 50th anniversary.