Demand for Court Interpreters Brings Budget Request to Capitol

by Sarah Green

As the population of Colorado continues to grow, the need to improve important programs including transportation, education and state-managed programs such as Medicaid continues to increase, leaving lawmakers to consider an annual mid-year spending adjustment to the $25.8 billion budget that was approved in 2016.

However, the increased demand for court services, specifically, court interpretation, is also increasing with the state’s growing population, a factor that will also be considered in the 2017-18 budget.

According to statistics provided by the Colorado Judicial Branch, the state’s courts experienced a 9 percent increase in the demand for court interpreters in 2015. As a result, Chief Justice Nancy Rice announced Jan. 13 in her State of the Judiciary address that lawmakers in this year’s legislative session will consider a nearly $880,000 increase to the 2018 annual budget in order to respond to the high demand for court interpreters.

As justification for the budget increase request, Rice referred to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which “prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.” In her budget request, Rice wrote that “national origin discrimination includes, among other things, failing to provide meaningful access to the courts for individuals who do not speak English …or have a limited ability to read, speak, write or understand the language.”

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the February 20, 2017 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.