Spanish speaking residents needing to use the services of the Monmouth County Courthouse will have more signage and translation options made available to them thanks to efforts by the Latino Coalition.
The Latino Coalition announced a partial resolution over a nearly three year dispute over language access issues in the Courthouse.

“You cannot have a court system where people don’t understand the issues before them, and the courts don’t provide sufficient translation and interpretive services.” Says Coalition Director Frank Argote Freyre.

Freyre says their complaints stem back to 2009 where they found inadequate bilingual signage, translation services, and brochure material. The lack of action by Assignment Judge Lawrence Lawson and court administrators led the Coalition to file a complaint with the Department of Justice in August 2012.

“They were providing no court interpretive or translation services for child custody cases and spousal abuse cases.”

As part of earlier negotiations, the Monmouth County Courthouse agreed to provide interpretation and translation services for individuals involved in child custody and visitation matters and installed a telephone prompt system that utilized Spanish. They also agreed to do away with the practice of referring LEP individuals to non-profit agencies to perform translation and interpretive services causing endless delays and inconvenience. Finally, earlier this year, court officials agreed to post signs in Spanish outside each courtroom indicating that conversations are being recorded even when court is not in session.

Freyre says the effort isn’t aimed at criminal defendants, but rather law abiding citizens seeking justice.

“It’s for the general so that if you were a Spanish speaker and you have a dispute with your landlord, you know where to go to file a claim.”

According to Monmouth County Court statistics, 88 percent of all clients that required assistance in a foreign language were Spanish speakers. There were 2,183 requests for interpreting services in 2012 and 1924 were for assistance of Spanish speakers.