Directive #21-23 – Updated New Jersey Judiciary Language Access Plan (Supersedes Directive #10-22)

Directive #21-23 – Updated New Jersey Judiciary Language Access Plan (Supersedes Directive #10-22)

The Supreme Court has approved the attached updated version of the Judiciary's Language Access Plan (LAP). This supersedes and replaces Directive # 10-22. These most recent updates to the LAP align with and advance the Supreme Court's direction in State v. Juracan-Juracan, 255 N.J. 241 (2023 ), as to the presumption that interpreting services will be provided in person in a criminal jury trial. 

Continuing Commitment to Access and Quality Language Services 

The Judiciary's Language Access Plan continues to be grounded in the basic tenets that: (1) anyone who is limited in their ability to speak and/or understand English or is Deaf or hard of hearing is entitled to the same access to, and meaningful participation in, the court process and services as people without language access needs; (2) only qualified interpreters may interpret; and (3) all costs for interpreting are to be borne by the Judiciary, except in very limited instances. 

The Judiciary is committed to ensuring equal access to the courts by providing free and qualified language access services to all court users who are Limited English Proficient (LEP) or who are Deaf or hard of hearing. In furtherance of that organization-wide commitment, the Judiciary's Language Access Plan (LAP) provides a comprehensive resource of language access policies and standards as well as an action plan for advancing the Judiciary's language access services program. This evolving document also sets out best practices for continuous improvement of language access services in support of ensuring meaningful access for all court users. 

2023 Updates to the Language Access Plan 

In light of the Supreme Court's direction in Juracan-Juracan, the LAP Advisory Committee proposed updates to Standard 1.8 ("Use of Remote Interpreting"), as follows: 

  • New Subsection 1.8.1 ("Criminal Jury Trials"), which sets out the Court's direction in Juracan-Juracan; and
  • New Subsection 1.8.2 ("Additional Factors Applicable to Remote and/or In-Person Interpreting"), which provides operational guidance to state court staff as to the provision of such services.

On the recommendation of the Judicial Council, the Supreme Court approved these additions to the LAP. 

These 2023 updates are consistent with the 2022 updates to Standard 1. 8 ("Use of Remote Interpreting"), which formalized judicial discretion to authorize remote interpreting services for emergent and routine proceedings conducted in on-site, hybrid, and virtual formats, in accordance with current and ongoing practices. The 2023 revised LAP also includes a new comment to Standard 3.3 ("Speaking on the Record to Those Needing Interpreting Services") and updates to Standard 3 .4 ("Team Interpreting") to address relay interpreting. Further edits also have been incorporated for clarity and consistency. 

Please share this with your judges and staff. Thank you for your continuing efforts on maintaining and advancing the Judiciary's language access program and ensuring equal access to all, including those who are limited English proficient and those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Questions or comments about this Directive may be directed to Brenda Carrasquillo, Manager, Language Services Section at 609-815-2900 ext. 523 71 or brenda.carrasquillo@njcourts.gov

Document Date: Nov. 14, 2023

Publish Date: Nov. 16, 2023