Cases of Barriers to Justice and Their Consequences for the Legal System

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Justice Barriers to ESL/LEP Violence Victims

Delays in court for ESL/LAP applicants is one of the thematic findings from exploring the justice barriers for this population identified by Emily Troshynski in her presentation on “Lost in Translation: Barriers to Justice Faced By ESL/LEP Civil Protection Order Applicants.” Court delays in the passing of judgment against culprit threaten the lives of victims. Court system issues civil protection orders (CPO) by the fulfillment of specific factors of the hearing. Based on the presentation by Troshynski, the complaint must be able to articulate the scenario of victimization and apprehension with any other related progressive threats to the court. Additionally, elaboration of the level of danger, evidence of perceived harm and previous interactions between the victim and the abuser are also areas of interest before the filing of any decision against the suspect in any court ground. Completion of all these tasks requires a significant amount of time to put evidence together before the conclusion of the case. In this light, the court ends up delaying in its justice delivery service. The judicial system should embrace reforms; one of possible directions for such changes is described by Kathryn Henne and Emily I Troshynski in the article “Mapping the Margins of Intersectionality: Criminological Possibilities in a Transnational World.”

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Another important justice barrier includes judicial reactions to ESL/LEP applicants. Victims are perceived as deserving for aggressive behavior even when it occurs from an intimate partner. Subjectivity is one of negative features seen in courts since applicants are assessed based on their gender, ethnicity, and other characteristics that may potentially cause problems. For instance, Troshynski’s presentation suggests that most of victims appearing in the court are aged 30-44 with female applicants being younger than male ones. Although more than half of applicants are full-time employed, a high percent is unemployed, with female applicants being full-employed more often than male applicants (Troshynski). However, the most important feature of such applicants is their insufficient knowledge of English language, which causes the major barrier to their access to proper judicial services. It appears that victims not being able to compile their complaints in proper language are not treated adequately. Inaccuracies in English used by applicants for filing forms on their domestic and IPV experiences cause negative reactions in courts. As Troshynski suggests, this problem should be solved with the help of qualified interpreters provided in court rooms on request of applicants so that the court considered violent experiences instead of inconsistencies in language.

The final justice barrier identified by Troshynski relates to ESL/LAP applicants’ experiences being lost in translation. According to Troshynski, a recent study of U.S. courts reveals that 46% of them fail to provide interpreters in all cases, 37% fail to require use of trained interpreters even when available, and an overwhelming 80% do not guarantee to pay for services of interpreters even in cases involving needy victims. An ill-equipped legal US system that provides inadequate services is the result of such strategies. To resolve this problem, court restrictions on minimal requirements should undergo a drastic change to demand quality interpreters in every case with a pay guaranteed by the court. As Troshynski claims, explanations of victims miss the severity they deserve during interpretation as they highly rely on third-party court paid interpreters to pass their Domestic Violence (DV) and Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) experiences to judges. Therefore, court systems should look for alternative sources of evidence-free of language barriers no matter what to reduce such tendencies. They should also train their interpreters more on the native languages for better translation.

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