January 20, 2011
I. LEGAL BASIS AND PURPOSE
This document serves as the plan for the North Dakota Court System to provide services to Limited English Proficiency individuals in compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; 45 C.F.R. &S& 80 et seq; and 28 C.F.R. &S& 42 et seq. The purpose of this plan is to provide a framework for the provision of timely and reasonable language assistance to Limited English Proficiency individuals who come in contact with the North Dakota Court System. A Limited English Proficiency individual is one whose first language is other than English and who has a limited ability to speak, read, write or understand English.
This Limited English Proficiency Plan was developed to ensure equal access to court services for persons with limited English proficiency and hearing impaired persons. Although deaf and hard of hearing individuals are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) rather than Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, they have been included in this plan for the purpose of keeping all information related to interpreters in the same location.
II. NEEDS ASSESSMENT
The State of North Dakota provides court services to a wide range of persons, including people who
do not speak English or who are hearing impaired. Service providers include the North Dakota
Supreme Court and the district courts in the
seven eight judicial districts.
According to the United States Census Bureau which tracks language use and English ability, in the
2000 census 2010 American Community Survey conducted by the Census Bureau, 6.3 5.4 percent
(or 37,976 31,883 individuals) of the North Dakota population speaks a language other than English
at home. Of that number, 81 98.5% said they speak spoke English "very well" or "well", while
1.5 % or
3,550 9,151 said they speak spoke English less than "very well not well" or "not at all".
According to the same census, the most commonly spoken non-English languages in North Dakota
are, in descending order of frequency:
German (14,931) Spanish (9,420)
Spanish (8,263) German (7,923)
Scandinavian languages (3,193) Other and Unspecified Languages (5,803)
Native American languages (2,536) Other Indo-European Languages (2,414)
Other Slavic languages (1,350) Slavic Languages (2,322)
French (1,597) Chinese (1,144)
Serbo-Croatian (825) Vietnamese (1,090)
Ninety-seven percent of North Dakota residents are U.S. born residents, and
72.5 69.8% percent of
North Dakota residents in the 2000 2010 U.S. Census were born in North Dakota.
B. North Dakota Court System
The North Dakota Court System will make every effort to provide service to all Limited English
Proficiency individuals. However, the following list shows the
foreign languages that are most
frequently encountered interpreted in the court.
French Sign Language
This information on actual use of interpreters is based on data
through September 2009 collected
from the North Dakota District Court 's actual usage of interpreters for the period of January 2012
through December 2013.
III. LANGUAGE ASSISTANCE RESOURCES
A. Interpreters Used in the Courtroom
By North Dakota statute, "when a witness does not understand the English language or speak the
English language, or is deaf or unable to talk, an interpreter must be sworn to interpret for the
witness (N.D.C.C. &S& 31-01-11).
North Dakota Rules of Court for Criminal Procedures, Rule 28(b), provides, "The court may appoint
an interpreter of its own selection and may fix the reasonable compensation for such interpreter. The
court may direct that such compensation be paid out of such funds as may be provided by law."
North Dakota Rule of Civil Procedure 43(c) provides: "If a person with limited English proficiency or a deaf person is involved in a proceeding as a party, witness, person with legal decision-making authority, or person with a significant legal interest in the matter, the court must provide an interpreter." Similar language is used in Rule of Criminal Procedure 28.
An interpreter will be provided for deaf litigants and witnesses in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and N.D.C.C. &S& 28-33-02.
Under Administrative Rule 50, it is the policy of the judicial system to "ensure that adequate court interpreter services are provided for those persons who are unable to readily understand or communicate in the English language because of a disability or a non-English speaking background."
Interpreters Administrative Rule 50 lists when interpreters will be provided at no cost to a Limited
English Proficiency individual or deaf individual under the following circumstances:.
· For deaf or hearing impaired individuals who are a litigant or witness in any type of case
· For Limited English Proficiency litigants and witnesses in criminal, administrative traffic,
or infraction cases
· For Limited English Proficiency litigants and witnesses in juvenile hearings
· For Limited English Proficiency litigants and witnesses in Mental Health cases under
N.D.C.C. ch. 25-03.1
· For Limited English Proficiency litigants and witnesses in Sexually Dangerous Commitment
cases under N.D.C.C. ch. 25-03.3
· For Limited English Proficiency litigants and witnesses in Guardianship cases under
N.D.C.C. ch. 30.1-27 (minors) and 30.1-28 (incapacitated person)
· For Limited English Proficiency litigants and witnesses in Conservatorship cases under
N.D.C.C. ch. 30.1-29
· For Limited English Proficiency litigants and witnesses in Domestic Violence Protection
Order cases under N.D.C.C. ch. 14-07.1
· For Limited English Proficiency litigants and witnesses in Disorderly Conduct Restraining
Order cases under N.D.C.C. &S& 12.1-31.2
· For Limited English Proficiency litigants and witnesses in Annulment of Marriage cases
under N.D.C.C. ch. 14-04
· For Limited English Proficiency litigants and witnesses in Divorce cases under N.D.C.C. ch.
An interpreter may be appointed, at cost to a litigant or witness, in any other court proceeding in
which it is determined that an interpreter is necessary for the effective administration of justice.
Payment for interpreter services on behalf of law enforcement, defense attorneys, prosecutors or
corrections agents, other than at court appearances, is the responsibility of the agency that requested
the services. Interpreter services required for evaluations, treatment, classes, or other similar services
is the responsibility of the agency providing the service.
1. Determining the Need for an Interpreter in the Courtroom
There are various ways that the North Dakota Court System will determine whether a Limited English Proficiency court customer needs an interpreter for a court hearing. First, the Limited English Proficiency individual may request an interpreter. The North Dakota Court System displays an "I need an interpreter" sign translated into North Dakota's five most frequently interpreted languages in each of its clerk of court and juvenile court locations, which states: "I do not read or speak English and require an interpreter."
Second, court personnel and judges may determine that an interpreter is appropriate for a court hearing. Many people who need an interpreter will not request one because they do not realize that interpreters are available, or because they do not recognize the level of English proficiency or communication skills needed to understand the court proceeding. Therefore, when it appears that an individual has any difficulty communicating, a judge, juvenile court director, or clerk of court will request an interpreter on behalf of the individual.
Third, the North Dakota case management system for the district courts, which is a statewide, single-database case management system, tracks interpreter needs through case records and party records. Case record interpreter flags assist staff in recognizing when an interpreter is needed for a hearing on a particular case. Party record interpreter information stays with the party and is available statewide for future filings and party search results for that same individual.
Finally, outside agencies such as probation, attorneys, social workers or law enforcement may notify the court about a Limited English Proficiency individual's need for an interpreter for an upcoming court hearing.
2. Court Interpreter Qualifications
The North Dakota Court System hires interpreters for courtroom hearings in compliance with the North Dakota Rules of Court, Administrative Rule 50, which sets forth the qualifications and procedures for ensuring that effective interpreter services are provided. The North Dakota Court System does not have a state certification process for interpreters, however, in accordance with Rule 50, for deaf or hearing-impaired individuals, the court appoints interpreters who are certified by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, by the National Association of the Deaf, the North Dakota Association for the Deaf or those interpreters having the approval of the superintendent for the state school for the deaf.
For non-English speaking individuals, the court appoints "interpreters with certification by a recognized interpreter certification program in another jurisdiction and presence on a statewide roster of interpreters, if any, maintained by that jurisdiction." If no such qualified interpreter can be found, "a court may obtain the service of any other interpreter whose actual qualifications have been determined by examination or other appropriate means." "Actual qualifications" is defined in Administrative Rule 50 as "the ability to readily communicate with a non-English speaking person and orally transfer the meaning of statements to and from English and the language spoken by the non-English speaking person, or the ability to communicate with a hearing-impaired, or otherwise disabled person, interpret the proceedings, and accurately repeat and interpret the statements of the hearing-impaired or otherwise disabled person."
East Central Judicial District provides court system periodically offers an introductory two-day
training session for court interpreters, which includes an overview of the court system, court
processes, and legal terminology. Participants learn about the role of the interpreter and how to best
handle interpreter cases the code of conduct and ethics.
The North Dakota Court System
does not now maintains a statewide roster of interpreters which is
available through our public website. Instead each administrative unit is required to maintain an
Interpreter Resource List.
Whenever a non-certified interpreter is used in the courtroom, judges are encouraged to inquire into the interpreter's skills, professional experience, and potential conflicts of interest.
If an interpreter can be located but is unable to physically attend a court proceeding, the court may use interactive television (ITV) or telephone as an alternative means of providing interpreter services. If an interpreter cannot be located, the court may use a commercial, telephone-based interpreter service to facilitate communication with the Limited English Proficiency individual.
Bilingual court staff do not serve as court interpreters, however they may be asked to assist in securing an interpreter or to assist on a limited basis if a Limited English Proficiency individual contacts the court in person or on the telephone and asks for immediate assistance in asking about or understanding a court process, procedure or notice.
More information on court interpreters is available to court personnel and the public in the "North Dakota Court Interpreter's Handbook" which is published and maintained by the State Court Administrator's Office, and is available in print or on the court's website, located at: www.ndcourts.gov/resources.
B. Spoken Language Services Outside the Courtroom
The North Dakota Court System is also responsible for taking reasonable steps to ensure that Limited English Proficiency individuals have meaningful access to court information and court services outside the courtroom. This is perhaps the most challenging situation facing court staff because in most situations they are charged with assisting Limited English Proficiency individuals without an interpreter. Limited English Proficiency individuals may come in contact with court personnel via the phone, counter or other means. To that end, the North Dakota Court System has the following resources to help court staff communicate with Limited English Proficiency and deaf individuals:
·Interpreter services through International Translation Services in Moorhead, Minnesota
·Spanish Hotline (612) 596-9275 in Minnesota
·Somali Translation and Interpreter Services (612) 644-7600 in Minnesota
·Commercial Telephone Interpreter Services
·"I need an Interpreter" cards in the five foreign languages most commonly spoken in North Dakota
·Online communication aids, including translation services and glossaries
·Relay North Dakota 24-hour text- telephone service for the deaf and hearing impaired,
1-800-366-6889 (English) or 1-800-435-8590 (Spanish)
·Tips for serving deaf court customers found in the North Dakota Court Interpreter's Handbook
·Assisted listening devices for the hearing-impaired
·Certified real-time court reporting services
C. Translated Forms and Documents
In general, interpreters are expected to provide sight translation of documents for Limited English Proficiency individuals. The North Dakota Court System does have a limited number of translated forms and documents. These translated forms and documents are available on the court's intranet site, http://admin.ndcourts.gov for internal use.