SAN FRANCISCO – Legal advocates say throughout California, litigants in divorce, child custody, eviction and other civil cases who have difficulty with English are going into court without qualified interpreters. That's because California only guarantees access to an interpreter in criminal cases, not civil cases.
But the state is looking to change that.
Under pressure from the U.S. Department of Justice, California's Judicial Council this year approved a plan to extend free interpretation services to all cases by 2017.
Court officials say the task won't be easy.
California has the nation's largest court system spread out over a vast geographic area with many rural counties. The state has about seven million residents with limited English proficiency who speak over 200 languages.
The courts have also faced funding cuts.
A task force is working to implement California's language access goals.