Law: Libertad And Justicia for All

A shortage of interpreters is leaving the courts speechless

"Equal Justice Under Law," reads the motto atop the U.S. Supreme Court building. The words are lofty, but for the thousands of people who trudge through the criminal-justice system daily and who speak no English, the phrase means literally nothing. For many of these defendants, the words are also legally empty. American justice for those who do not comprehend English is anything but uniform, let alone understandable. There are no nationwide standards for court interpreters, little training and virtually no monitoring. "Everybody gets a piece of due process," says David Fellmeth, a senior court interpreter in New York City. "But how...

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