In a recent investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice found that the North Carolina court system has not been providing adequate interpreting services. The investigation was initiated after the Justice Department received complaints, including complaints from the N.C. Justice Center, stating that the court system was discriminating against people who speak little to no English.
The investigation found violations in both civil and criminal cases. The investigation found that when sufficient interpreting services were denied, the limited-English speaking individuals often spent additional time in jail in the criminal cases. In some instances, the Defendant was jailed for several weeks before an interpreter was located. One attorney alleged that at least one District Attorney in eastern North Carolina has elicited guilty pleas from Defendants who cannot speak sufficient English in exchange for their release from jail. The investigation also found some litigants who cannot speak English lost custody of their children as the result of not having a proper interpreter translate the proceedings.