District Court decision provides ADR Access for Non-English Speakers

February 22, 2021

SMRLS recently won a victory for non-English speaking court participants to obtain access to the courts through the use of interpreters.

SMRLS represented one of two unmarried non-English speaking parents of a young child ordered to take part in a Social Early Neutral Evaluation. After initially being denied an interpreter, the Court agreed with SMRLS’ argument that non-English speakers are disabled in communication pursuant to Minnesota law and that the State Court’s own policies require the Court to provide an interpreter to the parties in the case. As a result, the District Court issued an order requiring the Court to provide a court-certified interpreter for the parties.

This argument can be made in courts throughout the state in order to assert the rights of non-English speaking court participants and to ensure they can participate in a meaningful way and understand court proceedings that impact them. 

“This was a great outcome for the individual SMRLS client and other similarly situated litigants,” SMRLS attorney Sarah Palm said. “The ADR process, including mediation and Social Early Neutral Evaluations (SENE), is such a beneficial process and to be denied that because of a language barrier is both unfair and unjust. I am glad I was able to help ensure my client had equal access under the law.”


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