Indiana’s courts are working on ways to welcome people of Hispanic and Latino backgrounds into the legal community. Indiana is home to a growing Hispanic and Latino community. According to the United States Census Bureau, the number of Hoosier residents identifying themselves as Hispanic or Latino has grown from 1.8 percent of the state’s population in 1990, to 3.5 percent in 2000, and to 4.6 percent in the 2005. In 2005, 7.3 percent of Indiana residents reported speaking “a language other than English at home.” This display represents some of the ways that Indiana’s courts reach out to the Hispanic community.
Hispanics in Courts
The Hispanic & Latino Community and the Indiana Courts System
Indiana Court Interpreter Program
Indiana’s statewide court interpreter program was launched after a recommendation from the Supreme Court’s Commission on Race and Gender Fairness. The Court Interpreter Program addresses the need for reliable language translation and interpretation in Indiana courtrooms, including within the Spanish-speaking community. There are currently twenty-six certified interpreters in the state’s registry. Indiana’s program is a member of the National Center for State Courts’ Court Interpreter Certification Consortium.
On August 10, 2006, Supreme Court Justice Brent E. Dickson swore in twenty-one individuals as certified court interpreters in the Supreme Court Chambers. Twenty were certified in Spanish, and one was certified in Arabic.
To learn more about how to become a certified court interpreter in the state of Indiana, visit the Court Interpreter Certification Program website at http://www.in.gov/judiciary/interpreter/.
When the first court interpreters were sworn in on March 23, 2005, Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard delivered the oath in Spanish.
Legal Services and Aid
Members of the public can access information and resources to help them learn about and navigate the judicial process through The Self Service Legal Center, sponsored by the Indiana Supreme Court, and through the Indiana Legal Services organization. The Self Service Legal Center provides court forms and instruction to individuals choosing to represent themselves in a variety of situations. A form such as “Las reglas del tiempo del padre del estado de Indiana,” explaining Indiana’s parenting time guidelines, is one example of the forms and documents available in Spanish.
Indiana Legal Services provides legal information in both English and Spanish to constituents in need. Both the “Legal Information” Web page and the “Informational Brochures” are available in Spanish. This brochure, “¿Qué diferencia hay entre Medicaid y la Seguridad Social ‘Social Security’?,” discusses the differences between Medicaid and Social Security. Indiana Legal Services also recently received at $70,000 grant to develop a document portal that would give individuals the ability to electronically complete a form in Spanish but print the form in English. The Indiana Legal Services Web site is located at http://www.indianajustice.org.
A Strong Legal Community
Several committees and associations in Indiana are specifically designed to address the needs of Hispanics and Latinos within and affected by the legal community. Both statewide organizations, such as the Latino Affairs Committee of the Indiana Bar Association, and local associations, such as the Lake County Hispanic Bar Association, address these issues while also developing a greater sense of community. Other organizations, such as the Indiana Supreme Court Commission on Race and Gender Fairness, make recommendations to better ensure fair treatment of all people in the Indiana Courts system.
Maria Luz Corona served as magistrate in the Lake County Superior Court, Civil Division.
The Honorable Lorenzo Arredondo, Lake Circuit judge, serves as a member of the Indiana Supreme Court Commission on Race and Gender Fairness.
“The Latino Affairs Committee seeks to provide a unified voice addressing legal issues uniquely affecting the Latino community of Indiana. To coordinate resources so as to ensure equal access to justice for Indiana Latino community. To promote the legal concerns of Latinos within the broader legal community of Indiana. To raise awareness of issues that affect the Latino community in the House of Delegates.”
—Statement from the Latino Affairs Committee Web site,
Presented by the Indiana Supreme Court
For more information, visit:
Special assistance from:
Maria Pablon Lopez, Indiana University School of Law—Indianapolis
Adriene Meiring, Indiana Court Interpreter Program
Rafael Sanchez, Latino Affairs Committee of the Indiana Bar
Juana Watson, Indiana Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs