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Feb. 19, 2010
Translation Project Expands Access to Court Forms

Vital court information will be more readily accessible to non-English speaking Ohioans and those with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) as the result of a translation project initiated by the Supreme Court of Ohio.

Twenty-seven common forms used in general, domestic relations, juvenile and probate common pleas court divisions and municipal courts throughout the state have been translated into five major languages. The forms range from general information about domestic violence protection orders to appointing a minor’s guardian to a defendant’s waiver of a jury trial.

The five most commonly requested foreign languages in Ohio courts were selected: Arabic, Mandarin, Russian, Somali and Spanish. “By translating forms into the top five foreign languages, the courts will be able to provide vital information directly to the non-English speaking communities,” said Bruno Romero, Interpreter Services Program manager. “Additionally, these forms will assist in the performance of court interpreters by providing the same precise information to everyone.”

The Supreme Court embarked on the translation project to benefit individuals who have LEP, according to Romero. He explained that the Court selected professional, qualified translators to provide clear and accurate translations.

Franklin County Municipal Court Judge Julia Dorrian, chair of the Translation Subcommittee of the Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Interpreter Services, spearheaded the project. In addition to enabling courts to serve and communicate better with Ohio’s non-English speaking and LEP populations, the translation of these forms will increase access to the courts, Romero said.

Of the 27 forms identified for translation, the Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Domestic Violence recommended seven domestic violence and stalking forms because of their informational or instructional content, according to Diana Ramos-Reardon, Domestic Violence Program manager. For example, one of the forms (Form 10.01-A) explains the difference between civil and criminal domestic violence cases and the corresponding remedies that a court may provide. This information is particularly important for pro se parties (parties not represented by an attorney), who make judgment calls as to which courts’ assistance to seek.

The translation project makes information about domestic violence and stalking, including how to obtain a protection order, accessible to people previously disenfranchised due to a language barrier. Courts benefit tremendously from having parties, especially those who are LEP or non-English speaking, informed of the process and understand the remedies.

“Courts across Ohio have experienced a tremendous demand for protection orders and a noticeable increase in non-English speaking or limited-English proficient parties,” said Lorain County Domestic Relations/Juvenile Court Judge Debra Boros, who also serves as chair of the domestic violence advisory committee. “The translation of forms that provide information about domestic violence and stalking or instructions on how to obtain a protection order will not only increase parties’ meaningful access to the justice system, but it will also improve the efficient operation of courts.”

The project was funded by a generous grant of the Ohio State Bar Foundation.

Access the translated forms.

Contact: Chris Davey or Bret Crow at 614.387.9250.