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Supreme Court justice targets court language barriers

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 15, 2015

State Supreme Court Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar knows about the immigrant experience firsthand. As a teenager, Cuéllar emigrated with his parents from the Mexican state of Matamoros to California’s Imperial Valley in 1986.

“I was very lucky to have a green card,” said Cuéllar , who was in Napa on Thursday to honor attorneys who donate their time for free legal service. “That [moving to California] was a life-changing experience.”

As a young immigrant, Cuéllar faced the excitement of being in a new country, but there were also challenges. He saw the Latino and other immigrant communities struggle to navigate life in the United States when English was not their first language. This inspired Cuèllar’s main project today: making the California court system accessible to people who speak English as a second language or not at all.

This is not a small challenge. While California’s government has already integrated Spanish into some of its proceedings, according to Cuéllar, there are more than 200 languages spoken in California, most of them completely unrepresented in the courts. This sometimes forces children to act as interpreters for parents in court.

Read the whole story at Napa Valley Register

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