Chief Justice Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Language Access in Nebraska’s Courts

Chief Justice Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Language Access in Nebraska’s Courts

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Nebraska Chief Justice Michael G. Heavican will hold a proclamation signing ceremony commemorating the 50th Anniversary of language access in Nebraska’s Courts on Monday, August 14, 2023, at 11:30 a.m. at the District Court of the Colfax County Courthouse in Schuyler, NE.

Schuyler is identified as one of the cities in Nebraska with the greatest language diversity per capita and one of the top 10 cities in racial diversity.

Nebraska's initial court interpreter bill (LB 116, passed in 1973) established Nebraska's policy that the constitutional rights of individuals who are unable to communicate in English cannot be adequately safeguarded without the presence of interpreters during legal proceedings. The primary aim of the bill was to prevent injustices and provide assistance to such individuals in their legal defense.

Court interpreters enable individuals with limited English proficiency to fully participate in court proceedings, ensuring their right to a fair trial. By providing accurate and complete interpretations, interpreters help defendants, witnesses, and other parties understand and express themselves clearly, facilitating meaningful engagement with the legal process.

The Nebraska Supreme Court will attend. Representing interpreters at the event will be Raul Escobar and Abukar Madimba, contract interpreters who speak Spanish and Somali respectively. Also attending will be Nebraska’s Court Interpreter Coordinators and Supreme Court Language Access Program Manager Kathleen Valle.

The ceremony will be recorded and posted on the Judicial Branch website.