HB 3620SPRINGFIELD — Senate Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez’s (D-Chicago) legislation that allows people who are not comfortable speaking or understanding English to be aided by an interpreter in the court room was signed into law today.

“Language assistance is often necessary in a diverse state like Illinois to ensure that court proceedings are as fair as possible,” Martinez said. “People who have problems hearing or are not fluent in English deserve to know what is happening in the court room. This new law makes Illinois a leader in having its court system accessible to all residents.”

Currently, courts in Illinois must appoint language interpreters in criminal cases but not in civil cases.

Senator Martinez’s efforts will correct this disparity. Under her plan, an interpreter must be appointed in a civil case for any party or witness who is determined unable to understand or express the English language. For instance, someone who is deaf will now have a sign language interpreter in the court room.

Civil cases involve conflicts between people or institutions such as businesses. Common civil cases include divorces, contract disputes and personal injury cases.

“Justice is blind. It also needs to be multilingual,” Martinez said.

House Bill 3620 takes effect January 1 of next year.

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