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SB-1155 Court interpreters: small claims proceedings.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 06/28/2018 04:00 AM
SB1155:v96#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  June 27, 2018
Amended  IN  Senate  April 30, 2018
Amended  IN  Senate  April 02, 2018

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill No. 1155


Introduced by Senator Hueso

February 14, 2018


An act to repeal and add Section 116.550 of the Code of Civil Procedure, to add and repeal Section 756.1 of the Evidence Code, and to amend Section 68560.5 of the Government Code, relating to courts.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 1155, as amended, Hueso. Court interpreters: small claims proceedings.
Existing law provides for the regulation of court interpreters, and requires the Judicial Council to designate the languages for which certification programs shall be established. Existing law requires, except for good cause, as specified, a person who interprets in a court proceeding, as defined, using a language designated by the Judicial Council, to be a certified court interpreter for the language used. Existing law specifically excludes a small claims proceeding from the definition of a court proceeding for purposes of that requirement.
Existing law authorizes a small claims court to permit another individual, other than an attorney, to assist a party if the court determines that the party does not speak or understand English sufficiently to comprehend the proceedings or give testimony and needs assistance. Existing law requires each small claims court to make a reasonable effort to maintain and make available to the parties a list of interpreters who are able and willing to aid parties in small claims actions, as specified. Existing law requires, if a court interpreter or other competent interpreter is not available to aid a party in a small claims action, the court to postpone the hearing, at the first hearing of the case, one time only to allow the party the opportunity to obtain another individual, other than an attorney, to assist that party.
This bill would delete the requirement that each small claims court make a reasonable effort to maintain and make available to the parties a list of interpreters. The bill would would, until January 1, 2021, instead authorize the court to appoint an interpreter for that party if the court makes the above-described determination. The bill would also delete the authorization to postpone the hearing one time. The bill would instead authorize a small claims court to consider postponing the first hearing of a case in order to attempt to obtain a court interpreter who meets specified criteria or to allow the use of a “temporary interpreter,” as specified. finds that an interpreter is not available. If an interpreter is not available, the bill would require the court to postpone the first hearing, except as specified, and make a diligent search for a certified or registered interpreter. If an interpreter remains unavailable, the bill would require the court to make specified findings. The bill would require the Judicial Council to adopt rules of court to implement these provisions. The bill would require the Judicial Council, until January 1, 2021, to submit an annual report to the Legislature on the number of interpreters required, provided, and denied, as specified. The bill would also delete the provision excluding small claims proceedings from the definition of a court proceeding for purposes of the requirement to use certified court interpreters and would explicitly extend that requirement to small claims matters.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 116.550 of the Code of Civil Procedure is repealed.

SEC. 2.

 Section 116.550 is added to the Code of Civil Procedure, to read:

116.550.
 (a) If the court determines that a party does not speak or understand English sufficiently to comprehend the proceedings or give testimony, and needs assistance in so doing, the court may appoint an interpreter to interpret for that party. The requirements of Section 68561 of the Government Code apply to the appointment of interpreters in small claims matters.
(b) Notwithstanding Section 68561 of the Government Code, if If a court makes a finding that a certified or registered court interpreter or an interpreter provisionally qualified under the rules of court is not available to aid a party in a small claims action, at the first hearing of the case the court may consider postponing the hearing, depending on the complexity of the matter, in order to attempt to obtain a certified or registered court interpreter, or an interpreter that has been provisionally qualified, or the court may allow the use of an individual as a “temporary interpreter” under the rules of court to assist as an interpreter during the hearing. Any other continuances shall be at the discretion of the court. shall postpone the first hearing and the court shall make a diligent search for a certified or registered interpreter to be available for the date of the next hearing.
(c) If after a diligent search, a certified or registered interpreter, or an interpreter provisionally qualified under the rules of court, remains unavailable on the date to which the hearing has been postponed, the court shall make written findings on the record documenting the following:
(1) The language requiring interpretation.
(2) The efforts made to obtain a certified or registered court interpreter, or an interpreter provisionally qualified under the rules of court.
(3) That a further continuance of the hearing would be unduly prejudicial to the interest of a party to the action.
(4) If a person other than a certified or registered court interpreter, or an interpreter provisionally qualified under the rules of court, is appointed, the court shall also do all of the following:
(A) State on the record the qualifications of the person appointed.
(B) Make a finding on the record that the person appointed is able to sufficiently communicate with the court and with the person who requires the assistance of an interpreter so that the court and the person who requires the assistance of an interpreter would be able to fully participate in the court proceedings.
(C) Make a finding on the record that in the entirety of the circumstances of the case, justice would be served by an appointment of the person, including, but not limited to, whether the person who requires assistance has requested the appointment of the proposed person, whether a party has objected to the appointment of the proposed person, and whether the person who requires the assistance of an interpreter has knowingly and voluntarily waived the appointment of a certified or registered court interpreter, or an interpreter provisionally qualified under the rules of court.
(5) If no interpreter is appointed, the court shall find that proceeding without an interpreter is consistent with the fair administration of justice.
(d) (1) Notwithstanding subdivision (b), the court may permit a person other than a certified or registered court interpreter, or an interpreter provisionally qualified under the rules of court, to interpret at the first hearing only if all of the following requirements are satisfied:
(A) The party requiring the assistance of an interpreter requests that a person other than a certified or registered court interpreter, or an interpreter provisionally qualified under the rules of court, be allowed to assist the party at the hearings.
(B) The party requiring the assistance of an interpreter has been informed, in his or her spoken language, of his or her right to an interpreter at no cost, and agrees to waive that right in writing.
(C) The court makes written findings of fact to support the following:
(i) Such an appointment, as opposed to the postponement required under subdivision (b), would be in the interest of justice.
(ii) Requiring postponement, as required by subdivision (b), would cause undue hardship to the party requiring the assistance of an interpreter.
(2) Prior to making an appointment pursuant to paragraph (1), the court shall also make all of the written findings specified in paragraphs (1) through (5), inclusive, of subdivision (c).

(c)

(e) The Judicial Council shall adopt any forms or rules of court necessary to implement this section.

(d)

(f) (1) This section does not affect the priorities of actions and proceedings for court interpreter services as specified in Section 756 of the Evidence Code.
(2) This section does not alter the obligation to provide court interpreter services to small claims court parties when funding is available as specified in Section 756 of the Evidence Code.
(g) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2021, and as of that date is repealed, unless a later enacted statute that is enacted before January 1, 2021, deletes or extends that date.

SEC. 3.

 Section 756.1 is added to the Evidence Code, to read:

756.1.
 (a) Notwithstanding Section 68563 of the Government Code, on June 1, 2019, and annually thereafter, the Judicial Council shall submit to the Legislature a report detailing all of the following:
(1) The total number of interpreters required in the prior calendar year reported by county and language.
(2) The total number of interpreters provided in the prior calendar year reported by county and language.
(3) The total number of interpreters denied due to lack of availability in the prior calendar year reported by county, type of case, and language.
(4) The total number of new interpreters hired and trained in the prior calendar year reported by language.
(5) The total number of cases in which video remote interpreting was utilized in the prior calendar year.
(6) The total number of cases in which a temporary interpreter was utilized in the prior calendar year reported by county and language.
(7) The total number of cases in small claims court in which a party determined by the court to not speak or understand English sufficiently to comprehend the proceedings or give testimony proceeded without the assistance of an interpreter.
(b) A report to be submitted pursuant to subdivision (a) shall be submitted in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code.
(c) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2021, and as of that date is repealed, unless a later enacted statute that is enacted before January 1, 2021, deletes or extends that date.

SEC. 3.SEC. 4.

 Section 68560.5 of the Government Code is amended to read:

68560.5.
 As used in this article:
(a) “Court proceeding” means a civil, criminal, or juvenile proceeding, or a deposition in a civil case filed in a court of record.
(b) “Interpreter” does not include an interpreter qualified under Section 754 of the Evidence Code to interpret for deaf or hard-of-hearing persons, or an interpreter qualified for administrative hearings or noncourt settings under Article 8 (commencing with Section 11435.05) of Chapter 4.5 of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2.