Small courts in Pennsylvania are not consistently using professional interpreters, according to a recent report on 19 magisterial district courts in Chester, Montgomery and Delaware counties.
This spring, Temple and Villanova law students spent 70 hours observing judges and court staff in districts with a large number of residents who are not fluent in English.
During the course of their field work, the students observed lapses that included everything from obscured signage — intended to inform parties of their rights to an interpreter — to a judge holding a hearing in English when a litigant said he understood only "a little." When the man's case was dismissed, he didn't understand, so the judge gave a thumbs up and said "bueno," according to a subsequent report.
Read more from Newsworks.
After months of telling her story over and over to police officers and lawyers, it was finally time for the 12-year-old Bucks County girl to walk into the courtroom and testify against her rapist.
She was petrified.
While she waited to be called into court, the girl curled up on a chair and hugged her knees. Then Bud, a greyhound from Roxy Therapy Dogs, was brought to her side.
“She started petting Bud and you could just see the tension draining out of her face,” said Sharon Fleck, executive director of the nonprofit that brings dogs to the Bucks County Justice Center and other locations. “I don't think she took her hands off him the entire time we were there.”
Read more in the Morning Call.
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Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts is a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to ensuring that all Pennsylvanians can come to our courts with confidence that they will be heard by qualified, fair, and impartial judges
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