SJ Quinney College of Law, University of Utah


State courts have a well-recognized obligation to provide LEP individuals with meaningful access. In accordance with federal law, state courts have long been taking steps to increase that access, though perhaps not with time frames as swift as DOJ (or even the courts themselves) would prefer. But determining the manner in which state courts allocate their resources to provide interpreters should be within the discretion of the states to decide, provided, of course, that the courts provide meaningful access to LEP individuals. Additionally, state courts must make LEP funding decisions in a holistic context that requires courts to allocate scarce resources across multiple important considerations, only one of which is the provision of free court interpreters for LEP individuals. These realities were acknowledged in federal Title VI interpretive guidance that contemplates a balanced approach in focusing on whether a state’s steps to increase LEP access are “reasonable.” DOJ has taken this guidance a step further, construing Title VI’s requirements to include free access to court interpreters across a breathtakingly expansive range of court services, and regardless of an LEP individual’s ability to pay for an interpreter.