Language Access

Santa Clara Court paying federal rate to Spanish language contractors

SAN JOSE (May 17, 2016) _ The Superior Court of Santa Clara, in the Bay Area’s Silicon Valley, has started paying the federal rate of $418 per day to Spanish language independent contractors. The move became official at the beginning of May after CFI lobbied the court for months to take this and other actions to address the severe and chronic shortage of interpreters available to cover the court's needs. 

The court had already been paying premiums of $1200 a day to an agency in order to access a few interpreters. By offering the federal rate to contractors directly, the court can hire three interpreters for what it has been paying for one interpreter through the agency. A pay increase for staff is now imperative for the court to attract and retain employees and ensure reliable and predictable costs. 

The shortage had been growing worse over the past year and a half due to retirements and a series of resignations by employee interpreters who were fleeing the high cost of living and stagnant wages. CFI sent a letter to the presiding judge last December after months of meeting with the court, calling for action and explaining the shortage is a crisis that has been seriously impacting due process and equal access in a highly diverse community with large Latino and Vietnamese populations. CFI has been documenting both the problems litigants face, which include significant delays and continuances, proceeding in cases without interpreters, and the stressful working conditions for interpreters, which include health problems due to stress and voice strain. 
*union, *language access, *R2, *Santa Clara Courts