Accessing the Court if English is not your First Language

Accessing the Court if English is not your First Language

Are you trying to interact with the Chicago court system, but having difficulties because of limited English proficiency?  If so, you are one of thousands of residents facing the challenge of trying to make sense of the legal system while handicapped with communication challenges.  Fortunately, the state of Illinois has implemented a Language Access Plan (LAP) for the 3rd Judicial Circuit Court.  The compassionate legal team at the Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline can help you access these important services as they represent you with your legal issues.

What is the Language Access Plan?

Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires the court to provide language services to individuals with limited English proficiency.  The LAP has been developed in order to guarantee that such persons have equal access to court services and court-annexed programs.  Currently, the most frequently requested language translators include Spanish, Polish, American Sign Language, Korean and Russian.  These and many others are available at no cost.

What Language Services are Available?

Free interpreter services are provided pending judicial approval of your request.  The services of the court foreign language interpreters are designed to provide effective, efficient access to justice in the court system for individuals who do not speak, read or write the English language fluently.

Circuit judges have been provided with a bench card designed to help determine whether or not an individual has the language proficiency necessary to participate meaningfully in the court proceedings.  Although a court order is not required in order to obtain an interpreter, a judge may issue such an order.

Who is Eligible for Language Services?

All defendants charged with felonies or misdemeanors and who have limited English proficiency are eligible for interpreter services. The Illinois Supreme Court Language Access Policy provides for interpretive services for any legal proceeding, including juvenile and traffic matters. Additionally, these services are available in mediation settings, including mortgage foreclosure proceedings.

How can I Access the Language Assistance Services?

The Chief Judge’s Office schedules all interpreters.  They are assigned on a first come, first served basis and are free of charge. You cannot directly contact the Office of Interpreter Services.  Typically, you must tell the court clerk or judge when you arrive in the courtroom.  However, you may proactively request an interpreter through the Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline.

What if an Interpreter is Unavailable?

The 3rd Circuit Court will make every good faith effort to provide an interpreter in a timely matter.  In the event that an interpreter is not available, the court will stay the proceedings until such time that an interpreter is available.

What Should I do if I have Limited English Proficiency and I Need an Attorney?

Contact the experienced, compassionate team at the Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline.  We will guide you through your legal issues with integrity, making sure that you have access to the interpretive services to which you are entitled.