The state judiciary will now be offering protection from abuse forms in multiple
languages to assist families experiencing domestic problems that are not proficient in English, the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts announced this week.
“The new forms underscore the state court system’s long-standing commitment to promote equal access to justice regardless of racial, gender and ethnic background,” reads the Oct. 18 announcement issued by the AOPC. “Posted online to provide easy access, the forms are an important part of civil court proceedings, and failure to understand and complete them properly can delay or invalidate proceedings.”
In a statement, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille said court proceedings can be difficult to understand even if one speaks English, and that the new forms will help ensure that all citizens will have access to the court system and its resources by being able to access legal documents in a person’s native language.
The new forms will be available in Arabic, Simplified Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Khmer (Cambodian), Korean, Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian and Vietnamese.
The documents will be in a bilingual format consisting of both English and the foreign language.
The forms can be accessed at www.pacourts.us.
“Free and easy access to documents in different languages allows those with limited English skills to more readily understand and use them,” the AOPC news release states. “The forms also enhance enforcement of court orders by law enforcement, and help more people required to comply with them better understand the process.”
Language Service Associates, a Bucks County company, was hired by the judicial system to complete the translation process.
The work was paid for using a $200,000 grant from the Stop Violence Against Women program, which operates under the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
The translation process, which took two years to complete, included the use of a guide provided by the Consortium for Language Access in the Courts, which is a National Center for State Courts-based organization.
Previously, Spanish was the only other language besides English that was offered on the forms.