Philadelphia’s courts are responding to the growth of immigrant communities in the city. The most commonly used court documents have been translated into Cambodian Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese.
This should help both the court system and those who interact with it, said Sheila Woods Skipper, Philadelphia’s President Judge.
“When they are filling out the paper, they don’t have the interpreter that we have when they are in the actual court proceeding,” Skipper said. “So this way they are still able to access the system and fill out the necessary paperwork, able to read the court orders that are coming out because they are translated into those languages for them.” Skipper says the translated forms are especially helpful in domestic and landlord-tenant disputes, and other civil matters. “You know, it’s not always about the criminal system. It’s the more common things — the Family Court small claims, Traffic Court, where the volume of people are really accessing the courts,” she said. “We need to make sure we’re making it easy to navigate through the court system so there are no barriers to access.” Skipper says the courts will consider translating into more languages is demand arises.