[Senate Report 110-436]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]



                                                       Calendar No. 932
110th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 2d Session                                                     110-436

======================================================================



 
               STATE COURT INTERPRETER GRANT PROGRAM ACT

                                _______
                                

                 August 1, 2008.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

Mr. Leahy, from the Committee on the Judiciary, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                             MINORITY VIEWS

                         [To accompany S. 702]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on the Judiciary, to which was referred the 
bill (S. 702), to authorize the Attorney General to award 
grants to State courts to develop and implement State courts 
interpreter programs, having considered the same, reports 
favorably thereon, with an amendment, and recommends that the 
bill, as amended, do pass.

                                CONTENTS
                                  Page

  I. Background and Purpose of the State Court Interpreter Grant 
     Program Act......................................................2
 II. History of the Bill and Committee Consideration..................8
III. Section-by-Section Summary of the Bill...........................9
 IV. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate.......................11
  V. Regulatory Impact Evaluation....................................12
 VI. Conclusion......................................................12
VII. Minority Views of Senators Coburn and Kyl.......................13
VIII.Changes to Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported...........15


I. Background and Purpose of the State Court Interpreter Grant Program 
                                  Act

    The State Court Interpreter Grant Program Act authorizes 
$15,000,000 per year over five years for a grant program to be 
administered by the Office of Justice Programs of the 
Department of Justice. The grant program will make grants to 
State courts to develop and implement programs to assist 
individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP) to access 
and understand State court proceedings in which they are a 
party.
    This legislation is supported by State court judges and 
administrators, and access to justice advocates from around the 
country.\1\ It would provide much needed financial assistance 
to States for developing and implementing effective State court 
interpreter programs that include training, testing and 
certifying court interpreters. Improving State court 
interpreter programs around the country will help to ensure 
access to justice and fair trials for individuals with limited 
English proficiency.
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    \1\The Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State 
Court Administrators approved resolutions in support of the State Court 
Interpreters Grant Program Act, on November 29, 2007 and January 18, 
2006, respectively. Members of the Judiciary Committee have received 
letters from numerous state court judges and administrators including, 
Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille of Pennsylvania, Judge Lynn W. Davis 
of Utah, Daniel J. Becker, Utah State Court Administrator, Chief 
Justice Kay McFarland of Kansas, and Howard Schwartz, Judiciary 
Administrator of Kansas.
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    Currently, States are finding themselves in a difficult 
position. Qualified interpreters are in short supply because it 
is difficult to find individuals who are both bilingual and 
well-versed in legal terminology. At the same time, States 
continue to fall further behind as the number of Americans with 
limited English proficiency--and therefore the demand for court 
interpreter services--continues to grow. Despite their efforts, 
many States have been unable to keep up with the demand. The 
grants contained in this bill will help States to meet their 
obligations to provide equal access to justice with qualified 
and certified interpreters to ensure that LEP individuals 
understand court proceedings and receive fair trials.
    State courts have an obligation to provide court 
interpreters to LEP individuals in order to satisfy the 
Constitution, Federal law, and Department of Justice (DOJ) 
regulations. Competent court interpreters are critical in all 
courtroom proceedings from criminal pleas and trials to civil 
proceedings, and especially in those involving juvenile 
delinquency, parental rights, domestic violence, mental 
commitments and guardianships.
    Case law dating back more than three decades has recognized 
the constitutional right to an interpreter in criminal cases. 
State and Federal courts have held that providing an 
interpreter may be necessary to ensure an LEP defendant's Sixth 
and Fourteenth Amendment rights to confront adverse witnesses, 
participate in his or her own defense, and to effective 
assistance of counsel, as well as to ensure fundamental 
fairness under the Fifth Amendment's due process clause.\2\ 
Under established precedent, courts must ensure that court 
interpreters are provided at
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    \2\Chao v. State, 604 A.2d 1351 (De. 1992); State v. Calderon, 13 
P.3d 871 (Kan. 2000); State v. Rodriguez, 682 A.2d 764 (N.J. Super. 
1996); State v. Guzman, 712 A.2d 1233 (N.J. Super. 1998), cert. denied, 
719 A.2d 1022 (1998); People v. Avila, 797 P.2d 803 (Colo. Ct. App. 
1990). every crucial stage of criminal proceedings including jury 
instructions, sentencing, arraignment, entry of a guilty plea, and 
hearings such as those to change a plea or withdraw a guilty plea.\3\
    \3\See, e.g., People v. Aguilar, 677 P. 2d 1198, 1201 (Cal. 1984); 
People v. Robles, 655 N.E. 2d 172, 173 (1995); Thanh Ton v. State, 878 
P. 2d 986 (Nev. 1994).
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    In addition to constitutional requirements to provide a 
court interpreter, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Department 
of Justice guidance implementing title VI of the Act, require 
recipients of Federal financial assistance, including most 
State courts, to provide meaningful access to their programs 
and activities to LEP individuals.\4\
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    \4\Exec. Order No. 13166, 65 CFR 50121 (2000); Nondiscrimination in 
Federally Assisted Programs--Implementation of Title VI of the Civil 
Rights Act of 1964, 28 CFR 42.101-112 (1966); Guidance to Federal 
Financial Assistance Recipients Regarding Title VI Prohibition Against 
National Origin Discrimination Affecting Limited English Proficient 
Persons, 67 FR 41455 (2002).
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    Section 601 of title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 
provides that no person shall ``on the ground of race, color, 
or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be 
denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under 
any program or activity receiving Federal financial 
assistance.'' The Act directed Federal agencies that provide 
Federal financial assistance to any program or activity to 
issue rules or regulations implementing the Act. In Lau v. 
Nichols, the Supreme Court, interpreting the Department of 
Health, Education and Welfare's regulations, held that title VI 
prohibits conduct that has a disproportionate effect on LEP 
individuals because such conduct constitutes national origin 
discrimination.\5\
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    \5\414 U.S. 563 (1974).
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    In 2002, the Department of Justice promulgated regulations 
directly relating to title VI and LEP individuals in accordance 
with Executive Order 13166, ``Improving Access to Services for 
Persons with Limited English Proficiency.''\6\ In the 
regulations, DOJ recognized that LEP individuals, defined as 
individuals who ``have a limited ability to read, write, speak 
or understand English,'' face significant barriers to accessing 
government benefits and services, understanding and exercising 
important rights, complying with applicable responsibilities, 
and understanding other information provided by federally 
funded programs and activities.\7\ According to DOJ, failure to 
ensure that LEP persons can effectively participate in or 
benefit from federally assisted programs and activities may 
violate the prohibition on national origin discrimination.\8\
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    \6\67 FR 41455.
    \7\Id. at 41457.
    \8\Id.
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    Even in jurisdictions where English has been declared the 
``official language,'' entities receiving Federal financial 
assistance are still subject to the nondiscrimination 
requirement of title VI and DOJ regulations pertaining to LEP 
individuals.\9\
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    \9\Id. at 41459.
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    In the regulations, DOJ acknowledges the particularly acute 
need for LEP services in a courtroom setting where credibility 
and accuracy are important to protect an individual's rights 
and access to important services. It tells State courts that, 
at a minimum, every effort should be taken to ensure competent 
interpretation for LEP individuals during all hearings, trials, 
and motions during which the LEP individual must or may be 
present.\10\ Furthermore, DOJ strongly encourages the use of 
certified interpreters when an individual's rights depend on 
precise, complete, and accurate interpretation or translations, 
particularly in the contexts of courtrooms.\11\
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    \10\Id. at 41471.
    \11\Id. at 41461.
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    State courts should provide interpreters free of cost, 
regardless of whether the LEP individual is indigent.\12\ In a 
recent letter from the Department of Justice's Civil Rights 
Division to the National Center for State Courts, DOJ 
emphasized that the ``legally sound'' approach to providing 
language services in State courts requires them to be provided 
in both civil and criminal cases and be free of cost to the 
party in need of such services.\13\ Despite the greater 
financial burden, States have responded by adopting policies to 
provide court interpreters regardless of the ability to 
pay.\14\
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    \12\Id. at 41462.
    \13\Letter from Merrily A. Friedlander, Chief, Coordination and 
Review Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, to 
Wanda Romberger, Manager, Court Interpreting Services, National Center 
for State Courts (February 21, 2008) (available at http://
www.najit.org/Advocacy/DOJ%20Comment%20Letter%20on%20Bench%20Book.pdf) 
(last visited May 13, 2008).
    \14\Georgia Pabst, Courts Will Provide Interpreters More Often; 
State Budget Expands Funding, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel November 5, 
2007.
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    The need for language interpretation in courts is great and 
steadily increasing. The 2000 census reported that almost 47 
million people over age five spoke a language other than 
English at home, a 14 percent increase from the 1990 census. Of 
those who responded that they spoke a language other than 
English at home, 21 million, or 45 percent, said that they 
speak English less than ``very well.''\15\
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    \15\Census Brief, Language Use and English-Speaking Ability: 2000 
(October 2003), http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/c2kbr-29.pdf (last 
visited May 13, 2008).
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    According to census data, States are facing a dramatic 
increase in the number of LEP individuals that they are 
required to assist in State courts. For example, from 1990 to 
2000, Wisconsin had a 59 percent increase in the population of 
people who speak English less than ``very well.'' The 
percentage in Illinois increased by 60 percent, California 40 
percent, Iowa 92 percent, Maryland 65 percent, Massachusetts 31 
percent, New York 31 percent, and Vermont 28 percent.
    With the increase in population of foreign born or non-
native speakers, the need for court interpreters is growing. 
Federal court data show that in FY 2007, there was a 17 percent 
increase in the number of events requiring the use of court 
interpreters.\16\ Although the National Center for State Courts 
does not collect nationwide interpreter data, the Center 
approximates that State courts are faced with at least the 
same, and likely greater, increase due to the larger size of 
State court systems and the nature of their workload.
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    \16\2007 Annual Report of the Director, Administrative Office of 
the U.S. Courts at 35, \\http://www.uscourts.gov/library/annualreports/
2007/2007%20FINAL%20REPORT.pdf (last visited May 13, 2008).
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    Individual State data demonstrate the dramatic increase in 
the use of court interpreters. For example, in Arizona, at the 
Pima County Superior Court, the number of cases requiring 
interpretation services has nearly doubled over the last few 
years. In 2004, 519 criminal cases in the Superior Court 
required translation or interpretation. In 2007, there were 
more than 1,028 criminal cases needing translation or 
interpretation.\17\
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    \17\Claire Conrad, Need for Court Interpreters on Rise: Specialized 
UA Training Efforts also Expand to Meet Surging Demand, The Arizona 
Daily Star, December 10, 2007.
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    The bill focuses on State court interpreter training and 
certification because the skills required of a court 
interpreter differ significantly from those required of other 
interpreters or translators. In addition to the important 
nature of court proceedings, court interpretation is a highly 
specialized and particularly demanding form of interpretation. 
Although anyone with fluency in a foreign language could 
attempt to translate a court proceeding, the best interpreters 
are those that have been tested and certified to be able to 
give accurate, real-time interpretations of complicated court 
proceedings. Notably, DOJ strongly encourages States to use 
certified interpreters in courtrooms.\18\
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    \18\Guidance to Federal Financial Assistance Recipients Regarding 
Title VI Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination Affecting 
Limited English Proficient Persons, 67 Fed. Reg. 41,455, 41,461 (June 
18, 2002).
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    Use of uncertified or unqualified court interpreters has 
resulted in serious miscarriages of justice. For example, in 
2004, a Spanish-speaking man in Florida unknowingly pleaded 
guilty to stealing a $125,000 dump truck when he thought he was 
admitting to stealing a tool box. A judge ordered a new trial 
for him after it was found that the error was caused by poor 
interpretation on the part of his interpreter.\19\
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    \19\Jordana Mishory, Court Interpreters, Setting Standards, Daily 
Business Review, July 19, 2006.
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    United States Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, 
testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in February 
2007, expressed his familiarity and frustration with the 
problem of unqualified court interpreters. He noted situations 
where a long colloquy takes place between an interpreter and a 
witness, and then the interpreter turns to the judge or jury 
and simply relays ``yes'' or ``no.'' He also cited instances 
where bilingual jurors dispute the interpreter's interpretation 
in open court.\20\
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    \20\Judicial Security and Independence: Hearing Before the S. Comm. 
on the Judiciary, 110th Cong. (Feb. 7, 2007).
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    Since 1995, the Consortium for State Court Interpreter 
Certification has been working to develop court interpreter 
examinations for their member States. To date, the Consortium 
has developed tests for 13 different languages: Spanish, 
Cantonese, Haitian Creole, Hmong, Korean, Laotian, Russian, 
Vietnamese, Arabic, Mandarin, Portuguese, French and Somali. 
The Consortium has 40 member States and by the end of 2007, 29 
of them had used the examinations to test the qualifications of 
their interpreters.\21\
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    \21\Patricia Walther Griffin and Stephanie J. Cole, White Paper on 
Court Interpretation: Fundamental to Access to Justice, Conference of 
State Court Administrators (November 2007), http://cosca.ncsc.dni.us/
WhitePapers/CourtInterpretation-FundamentalToAccessToJustice.pdf (last 
visited May 13, 2008).
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    Despite these efforts, court interpreter certification 
varies greatly by State. Some States have highly developed 
training, testing and certification programs and others lag 
behind because of lack of adequate funding. Still others have 
no formal certification program at all.
    States that have already developed court interpreter 
programs would greatly benefit from this grant program because 
they would be able to increase the size of their training 
program to meet growing demand and acquire better technology 
that will help them make court interpreting more effective and 
cost efficient.
    Many States are making progress even though they still face 
significant challenges in providing enough certified 
interpreters to courts in need. Wisconsin's court interpreter 
certification program began in 2004, using State money and a 
modest Federal grant, when certified interpreters were scarce. 
Now, just a few years later, Wisconsin has trained 671 
interpreters and certified 51 of them. Even with this progress, 
increasing demand requires the State to continue to increase 
the pool of interpreters and expand the variety of languages 
for which it certifies interpreters.\22\
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    \22\Pabst, supra n. 13.
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    Other States, like Utah, struggle to meet the need for 
interpreters. Utah's certification program currently certifies 
court interpreters in Spanish, as the State has one of the 
fastest growing Latino populations in the country. However, the 
Utah Administrative Office of the Courts struggles to meet the 
need for interpreters of many languages due to limited 
resources. Utah has significant needs in Vietnamese and Tongan 
and has required court interpretation in more than 25 different 
languages.\23\
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    \23\Letter from Daniel J. Becker, Utah State Court Administrator, 
to U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (February 6, 2008).
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    Other States have only begun their certification efforts in 
the past few years. In 2006, Pennsylvania passed a law that 
created a statewide system of uniform certification for 
courtroom translators because availability and qualifications 
of interpreters had varied widely across the State. The State 
is now working on training their interpreters and preparing 
them for certification tests to be administered this year.\24\
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    \24\Act 172 of 2006, http://www.courts.state.pa.us/index/
interpreterprogram/Default.asp
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    In Iowa, the growing need for court interpreters made it 
clear to State court officials that greater efforts were needed 
to provide certified interpreters. This prompted Iowa to begin 
testing interpreters in 2006. At that time, only eight of the 
State's 115 court interpreters were certified.\25\ The Chief 
Supreme Court justice in Iowa, Justice Marsha Ternus, recently 
told Iowa lawmakers that the quality of Iowa's judicial system 
sits at a ``critical juncture'' hinging in part on funding for 
court interpreters.\26\
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    \25\Michael McWilliams, Court Translators Increasingly Needed to 
Break the Language Barrier, Iowa City Press-Citizen, May 4, 2006.
    \26\Grant Schulte, Chief Justice: Iowa Court System at Critical 
Point, Des Moines Register, January 16, 2008.
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    At the end of 2007, South Carolina had approximately 200 
interpreters working in the court system and only 22 had 
demonstrated that they could accurately interpret court 
proceedings by successfully completing the interpreter 
certification process. The State court system is currently 
trying to expand the pool of qualified interpreters by 
conducting its own training to certify court interpreters in 
Spanish.\27\
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    \27\Noelle Phillips, Classes Aim to Certify Legal Interpreters for 
S.C. Courts, The State, Oct. 16, 2007.
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    Finally, some States are still struggling to get their 
programs off the ground. In Kansas, anecdotal evidence suggests 
that less than one-half of the people who should have had a 
certified court interpreter received one. In those cases where 
no certified interpreter was available, interpreter services 
were provided by a family member or a bilingual member of the 
community. In these cases, the person serving as the 
interpreter rarely had adequate knowledge of the law or court 
procedures to provide services comparable to those of a 
certified court interpreter. The Kansas Committee on 
Interpreters, established in 1999, recommended establishing a 
formal, State-operated system for the recruitment, 
certification, training and compensation of court interpreters. 
However, this is a costly endeavor and the Kansas Judicial 
Branch has been unsuccessful in procuring adequate funding 
since the committee made its recommendation. Kansas is 
struggling to provide adequate interpreter services.\28\
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    \28\Letter from Chief Justice Kay McFarland to U.S. Senator Sam 
Brownback (Apr. 4, 2008).
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    The modest funding authorized in S. 702 will provide States 
with new money to start or bolster their existing court 
interpreter programs. The grants will not merely send Federal 
dollars to States to pay for court interpreters, as some 
critics suggest. The funding will be used for assessing the 
need for interpreters, recruitment, training and certification 
of interpreters, and developing court interpreter program 
infrastructure. States are hard-pressed to find enough funding 
for interpreters to satisfy existing need. Therefore, it would 
be difficult or impossible for States to devote substantial 
resources to certify interpreters when they are struggling to 
simply pay for the few interpreters they have. Thus, the grants 
will provide states with needed capital to develop programs 
that will be sustainable with state funding.
    In 2007, the Consortium for State Court Interpreter 
Certification surveyed its 40 member States. Of those States 
that responded, 71 percent indicated that additional budget 
dollars were critical for the future of their program. In order 
to establish and maintain viable and sustainable court 
interpreter programs, State courts need to conduct an expansive 
recruitment initiative, build the skills of bilingual 
individuals so that their language skills can be used for court 
interpreting, conduct continuing education, ethics and other 
training programs, and update courtroom technology for more 
cost-efficient and effective interpretation and translation.
    This critical infrastructure for training and certifying 
interpreters will benefit other government entities in their 
efforts to serve LEP individuals. By increasing the pool of 
certified interpreters, it will be able to better serve the LEP 
population in other settings such as local law enforcement, 
national emergency preparedness and response, and immigration 
proceedings, to name a few.
    In addition to helping States develop their court 
interpreter programs, this bill emphasizes the need for fully 
trained and certified interpreters. The bill recognizes that 
the best interpreters are those that have been tested and 
certified as official court interpreters.
    The bill does not change or alter current law or State 
obligations. It establishes a grant program to be administered 
by the Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs. The 
bill authorizes $15,000,000 for each of the fiscal years 2008 
through 2012. It authorizes $500,000 for each of the five 
fiscal years to be used to establish a court interpreter 
technical assistance program to assist State courts receiving 
grants under this Act.
    The grants may be used to: (1) assess regional language 
demands; (2) develop a court interpreter program for the State 
courts; (3) develop, institute, and administer language 
certification examinations; (4) recruit, train, and certify 
qualified court interpreters; (5) pay for salaries, 
transportation, and technology necessary to implement the court 
interpreter program; and (6) engage in other related activities 
as prescribed by the Attorney General.
    In order to be eligible for a grant under the bill, the 
highest State court of each State must submit an application to 
the designated administrator in the Office of Justice Programs. 
The application must include information that the administrator 
may reasonably require as well as: (1) a demonstration of need 
for the development, implementation or expansion of a State 
court interpreter program; (2) an identification of each State 
court in that State which would receive funds from the grant; 
(3) the amount of funds each State court indentified would 
receive from the grant; and (4) the procedures the highest 
State court would use to directly distribute the grant funds to 
State courts identified in the application.
    The bill creates three different types of allotments as a 
means of distributing the authorized funds. The first such 
allotment is called the ``base allotment.'' Any State that 
submits an application will receive the base allotment of 
$100,000. Under the ``discretionary allotment,'' five million 
dollars will be split among States that demonstrate to the 
Administrator an ``extraordinary'' need.
    Finally, under the ``additional allotment,'' the remaining 
grant dollars shall be divided proportionately among States 
that have submitted applications based on need as determined by 
the most recent census data.\29\ Each State will get a fraction 
of the money based on its proportion of individuals over age 
five who speak a language other than English at home to the 
total number of people in this category from all States that 
have applied.
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    \29\The amount each State receives will be based on need to be 
determined by the most recent State census data for people over five 
years of age who speak a language other than English at home. The use 
of this particular census data is based on the Department of Justice's 
guidance that courts must provide language assistance to individuals 
who ``do not speak English as their primary language and who have a 
limited ability read, write, speak, or understand English.''
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    The State Court Interpreter Grant Program Act does not 
instruct the State in great detail on how to develop their 
court interpreter program. Each State has unique needs and 
faces unique challenges in providing court interpreters. The 
bill is intended to give them some flexibility, within the 
criteria permitted in the bill and the guidelines or 
regulations determined by the Attorney General or 
Administrator, to provide certified interpreters in State court 
criminal and civil proceedings.

          II. History of the Bill and Committee Consideration


                      A. INTRODUCTION OF THE BILL

    The State Court Interpreter Grant Program Act was first 
introduced by Senator Kohl (D-WI) in the 108th Congress as S. 
1733. The bill was introduced again in 109th Congress and was 
included in S. 2611, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act 
of 2006 which passed the Senate 62 to 36 on May 25, 2006. No 
further action was taken in the 109th Congress.
    In the 110th Congress, Senator Kohl (D-WI) introduced S. 
702, the State Court Interpreter Grant Program Act. Senator 
Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) were 
original co-sponsors. After introduction, Senator Patrick Leahy 
(D-VT), Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE), Senator Benjamin Cardin 
(D-MD), and Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) joined as co-sponsors.

                       B. COMMITTEE CONSIDERATION

    On April 24, 2008, the Judiciary Committee met in executive 
session to consider the bill. Senator Kohl offered an amendment 
in the nature of a substitute that made three technical 
changes. The amendment updated the findings to reflect that 40 
States have now developed, or are developing, qualified court 
interpreting programs. It also added a showing of need to the 
application required under subsection (c). Finally, the 
amendment made the ``discretionary allotment'' requirement 
consistent with the other allotments by requiring that to be 
eligible a State must submit an application under subsection 
(c). The substitute amendment was accepted by unanimous 
consent.
    The Committee then voted to report the State Court 
Interpreter Grant Program Act, with an amendment in the nature 
of a substitute, favorably to the Senate. The Committee 
proceeded by roll call vote as follows:

                         TALLY: 14 YEAS, 5 NAYS

    Yeas (14): Leahy (D-VT), Kennedy (D-MA), Biden (D-DE), Kohl 
(D-WI), Feinstein (D-CA), Feingold (D-WI), Schumer (D-NY), 
Durbin (D-IL), Cardin (D-MD), Whitehouse (D-RI), Specter (R-
PA), Hatch (R-UT), Grassley (R-IA), Brownback (R-KS).
    Nays (5): Kyl (R-AZ), Sessions (R-AL), Graham (R-SC), 
Cornyn (R-TX), Coburn (R-OK).

              III. Section-by-Section Summary of the Bill


Section 1. Short title

    This section provides that the legislation may be cited as 
the ``State Court Interpreter Grant Program Act.''

Section 2. Findings

    This section contains congressional findings related to the 
growing need for certified State court interpreters.

Section 3. State court interpreter program

    Section 3, subsection (a), paragraph (1) authorizes and 
directs the Administrator of the Office of Justice Programs of 
the Department of Justice to make grants, in accordance with 
regulations that may be prescribed by the Attorney General, to 
State courts to develop and implement programs to assist 
individuals with limited English proficiency to access and 
understand State court proceedings in which they are a party.
    Paragraph (2) allocates $500,000 each fiscal year for five 
years to be used to establish a court interpreter technical 
assistance program to assist State courts that receive grants.
    Subsection (b) describes how the State courts may use the 
grant awards. They may be used to: (1) assess regional language 
demands; (2) develop a court interpreter program for the State 
courts; (3) develop, institute, and administer language 
certification exams; (4) recruit, train and certify qualified 
court interpreters; (4) pay for salaries, transportation, and 
technology necessary to implement the court interpreter program 
developed under paragraph (2); and (6) engage in other related 
activities, as prescribed by the Attorney General.
    Subsection (c) describes the grant application process. 
Under paragraph (1), the highest State court of each State 
desiring a grant under the program must submit an application 
to the Administrator at such time, in such manner, and 
accompanied by such information as reasonably required by the 
Administrator.
    Subsection (c) paragraph (2) describes the components for 
the application required under paragraph (1). The application 
must include a demonstration of the need for the development, 
implementation or expansion of a State court interpreter 
program, an identification of each State court in that State 
which would receive funds from the grant, the amount of funds 
each State court would receive from the grant, and the 
procedures the highest State court would use to directly 
distribute grant funds to State courts.
    Subsection (d) creates three different allotments of 
funding available to States that have applications approved 
under subsection (c). Paragraph (1) creates the ``base 
allotment'' of $100,000 available to each of the highest State 
courts of each State which has applied for funding.
    Paragraph (2) creates the ``discretionary allotment,'' in 
which the Administrator shall allocate $5,000,000 to be 
distributed among the highest State courts of States which have 
extraordinary needs that are required to be addressed in order 
to develop, implement or expand a State court interpreter 
program.
    Finally, paragraph (3) creates an ``additional allotment'' 
which would allocate the unallocated balance of the amount 
appropriated for each fiscal year to States who have submitted 
grant applications. The amount each State receives will be 
based on need to be determined by the most recent State census 
data for people over five years of age who speak a language 
other than English at home. Each State shall get an amount 
equal to the total calculated by multiplying the unallocated 
balance of the amount appropriated for each fiscal year and the 
ratio between the number of people over five years of age who 
speak a language other than English at home in the State and 
the number of people over five years of age who speak a 
language other than English at home in all the States that 
receive an allocation under paragraph (1), as those numbers are 
determined by the Bureau of the Census.
    This can be demonstrated by the following example. 
According to the 2000 U.S. Census, in all 50 States plus the 
District of Columbia, there were 46,951,595 people over age 
five who speak a language other than English at home. Assuming 
all 50 States, plus the District of Columbia applied for grants 
under subsection (c), State X that had 1,000,000 individuals 
over age five who speak a language other than English at home 
in the most recent census would receive 2.13 percent of the 
remaining funds. However, if only 40 States applied for the 
grants, the percentage would be based on the total number of 
individuals over age five who speak a language other than 
English at home from those 40 States, not the total number for 
all 50 States plus the District of Columbia. Thus, State X 
would receive a greater percentage of funding.
    Paragraph (4) says that for purposes of section (d), the 
District of Columbia shall be treated as a State and the 
District of Columbia Court of Appeals shall act as the highest 
State court for the District of Columbia.

Section 4. Authorization of appropriations

    This section authorizes appropriations of $15,000,000 for 
each of the fiscal years 2008 through 2012 to carry out this 
Act.

             IV. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

    The Committee sets forth, with respect to the bill, S. 702, 
the following estimate and comparison prepared by the Director 
of the Congressional Budget Office under section 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974:

                                                    April 29, 2008.
Hon. Patrick J. Leahy,
Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 702, the State Court 
Interpreter Grant Program Act.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Mark 
Grabowicz.
            Sincerely,
                                           Peter R. Orszag.
    Enclosure.

S. 702--State Court Interpreter Grant Program Act

    Summary: S. 702 would authorize the appropriation of $15 
million for each of fiscal years 2009 through 2012 for the 
Department of Justice to make grants to state courts for 
programs to assist persons with limited English proficiency. 
Assuming appropriation of the authorized amounts, CBO estimates 
that implementing the bill would cost $47 million over the 
2009-2013 period. Enacting S. 702 would not affect direct 
spending or revenues.
    S. 702 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) 
and would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    Estimated cost to the Federal Government: The estimated 
budgetary impact of S. 702 is shown in the following table. For 
this estimate, CBO assumes that the legislation will be enacted 
near the end of fiscal year 2008. We assume that the amounts 
authorized by the bill will be appropriated by the start of 
each fiscal year and that outlays will follow the historical 
rate of spending for similar activities. The costs of this 
legislation fall within budget function 750 (administration of 
justice).

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                  By fiscal year in millions of dollars--

                                 ---------------------------------------
                                   2009    2010    2011    2012    2013
------------------------------------------------------------------------
              CHANGES IN SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION

Authorization Level.............      15      15      15      15       0
Estimated Outlays...............       3       8      11      13      12
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Intergovernmental and private-sector impact: S. 702 
contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as 
defined in UMRA and would impose no costs on state, local, or 
tribal governments. Assuming appropriation of authorized 
amounts, states would benefit from almost $50 million over the 
2009-2013 period for interpreter services in courts.
    Estimate prepared by: Federal Costs: Mark Grabowicz; Impact 
on State, Local, and Tribal Governments: Melissa Merrell; 
Impact on the Private Sector: MarDestinee C. Perez.
    Estimate approved by: Theresa Gullo, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                    V. Regulatory Impact Evaluation

    In compliance with rule XXVI of the Standing Rules of the 
Senate, the Committee finds that no significant regulatory 
impact will result from the enactment of S. 702.

                             VI. Conclusion

    The State Court Interpreter Grant Program Act will provide 
much needed assistance to State courts to develop and implement 
programs to assist individuals with limited English proficiency 
so that they will be able to access and understand the State 
court proceedings in which they are parties. This legislation 
is critical to helping States ensure access to justice and fair 
trials for LEP individuals.

                          VII. Minority Views

                              ----------                              


               MINORITY VIEWS OF SENATORS COBURN AND KYL

    S. 702 authorizes $75 million over 5 years to provide 
federal grants to state courts for interpreter programs. This 
bill is another example of the federal government spending 
limited federal dollars on what is an inherent state 
responsibility. In this instance, it seems clear the states 
have already largely addressed the issue--according to the 
bill's own finding--as 40 states have developed, or are 
developing, qualified court interpreter programs. During these 
times of economic pressure that this government and all 
Americans face, every dollar Congress spends should be 
prioritized according to our constitutional duties.
    Moreover, as written, this bill means that individuals who 
are bilingual--for example, those who speak another language at 
home, but who are also perfectly able to speak and understand 
English--will be included in the process of determining how 
much money a state will receive under this program. According 
to the Census Bureau, in 2000, most people who spoke a language 
other than English at home (55% or 25.6 million people) 
reported they spoke English ``very well.'' Furthermore, 
``respondents who said they spoke English `very well' were 
considered to have no difficulty with English.''\1\
    Yet this bill would include these individuals in the 
calculation of a state's allotment. This shows that focusing 
broadly on those who ``speak a language other than English at 
their home'' overestimates the number of people this program is 
meant to assist, and implies that language assistance is 
required for those who might not need it. The language of the 
bill should be narrowed to include only those who cannot 
sufficiently understand or speak English, consistent with the 
purpose of this bill.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\``Language Use and English-Speaking Ability: 2000,'' Census 2000 
Brief, October 2003.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Congress should not intrude upon the inherent authority of 
the states by making this matter a federal responsibility, 
which is the ultimate effect of this bill. When the federal 
government assumes responsibility for the states' duties, the 
states' incentive to perform those functions is inevitably 
diminished. There will always be a need for more court 
interpreters, and we appreciate the sincere efforts of the 
bill's proponents to address a very real problem. However, once 
Congress has created a grant program to provide court 
interpreters at the state level, the states will look to 
Congress when the money runs out, rather than to their own 
state legislatures, as is the current case. It is the 
responsibility of each individual state to provide court 
interpreters as needed, in order to meet the needs of its 
citizens. We decline to wrest this authority from the states, 
where it should appropriately remain.

                                   Tom Coburn.
                                   Jon Kyl.
                     VIII. Changes to Existing Law

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, changes in existing law made by 
S. 702, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law 
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new 
matter is printed in italic, and existing law in which no 
change is proposed is shown in roman):

                    STATE COURT INTERPRETER PROGRAM

    (a) Grants Authorized.--
          (1) In general.--The Administrator of the Office of 
        Justice Programs of the Department of Justice (referred 
        to in this section as the ``Administrator'') shall make 
        grants, in accordance with such regulations as the 
        Attorney General may prescribe, to State courts to 
        develop and implement programs to assist individuals 
        with limited English proficiency to access and 
        understand State court proceedings in which they are a 
        party.
          (2) Technical assistance.--The Administrator shall 
        allocate, for each fiscal year, $500,000 of the amount 
        appropriated pursuant to section 4 to be used to 
        establish a court interpreter technical assistance 
        program to assist State courts receiving grants under 
        this Act.
    (b) Use of Grants.--Grants awarded under subsection (a) may 
be used by State courts to--
          (1) assess regional language demands;
          (2) develop a court interpreter program for the State 
        courts;
          (3) develop, institute, and administer language 
        certification examinations;
          (4) recruit, train, and certify qualified court 
        interpreters;
          (5) pay for salaries, transportation, and technology 
        necessary to implement the court interpreter program 
        developed under paragraph (2); and
          (6) engage in other related activities, as prescribed 
        by the Attorney General.
    (c) Application.--
          (1) In general.--The highest State court of each 
        State desiring a grant under this section shall submit 
        an application to the Administrator at such time, in 
        such manner, and accompanied by such information as the 
        Administrator may reasonably require.
          (2) State courts.--The highest State court of each 
        State submitting an application under paragraph (1) 
        shall include in the application--
                  (A) a demonstration of need for the 
                development, implementation, or expansion of a 
                State court interpreter program;
                  (B) an identification of each State court in 
                that State which would receive funds from the 
                grant;
                  (C) the amount of funds each State court 
                identified under subparagraph would receive 
                from the grant; and
                  (D) the procedures the highest State court 
                would use to directly distribute grant funds to 
                State courts identified under subparagraph (B).
    (d) State Court Allotments.--
          (1) Base allotment.--From amounts appropriated for 
        each fiscal year pursuant to section 4, the 
        Administrator shall allocate $100,000 to each of the 
        highest State court of each State, which has an 
        application approved under subsection (c).
          (2) Discretionary allotment.--From amounts 
        appropriated for each fiscal year pursuant to section 
        4, the Administrator shall allocate a total of 
        $5,000,000 to the highest State court of States which 
        have an application approved under subsection (c), and 
        that have extraordinary needs that are required to be 
        addressed in order to develop, implement, or expand a 
        State court interpreter program.
          (3) Additional allotment.--In addition to the 
        allocations made under paragraphs (1) and (2), the 
        Administrator shall allocate to each of the highest 
        State court of each State, which has an application 
        approved under subsection (c), an amount equal to the 
        product reached by multiplying--
                  (A) the unallocated balance of the amount 
                appropriated for each fiscal year pursuant to 
                section 4; and
                  (B) the ratio between the number of people 
                over 5 years of age who speak a language other 
                than English at home in the State and the 
                number of people over 5 years of age who speak 
                a language other than English at home in all 
                the States that receive an allocation under 
                paragraph (1), as those numbers are determined 
                by the Bureau of the Census.
          (4) Treatment of district of columbia.--For purposes 
        of this section--
                  (A) the District of Columbia shall be treated 
                as a State; and
                  (B) the District of Columbia Court of Appeals 
                shall act as the highest State court for the 
                District of Columbia.

                    AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS

    There are authorized to be appropriated $15,000,000 for 
each of the fiscal years 2008 through 2012 to carry out this 
Act.