From Illinois Business Journal news services
SPRINGFIELD — Legislation calling for interpreters in civil court cases goes into effect Jan. 1.
The measure, House Bill 3620, was sponsored by Senate Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez, D-Chicago.
“Language assistance is often necessary in a diverse state like Illinois to ensure that court proceedings are as fair as possible,” Martinez said. “People who have problems hearing or are not fluent in English deserve to know what is happening in the court room. This new law makes Illinois a leader in having its court system accessible to all residents.”
Currently, courts in Illinois must appoint language interpreters in criminal cases but not in civil cases.
Martinez said the law calls for an interpreter to be appointed in a civil case for any party or witness who is determined unable to understand or express the English language. For instance, someone who is deaf will now have a sign language interpreter in the courtroom.
Civil cases involve conflicts between people or institutions such as businesses. Common civil cases include divorces, contract disputes and personal injury cases.
“Justice is blind. It also needs to be multilingual,” Martinez said.