“When you learn, teach.” ~ Maya Angelou
Engaging, results-oriented, and passionate, Ms. Edmondson-Cooper is a seasoned A2J/ language access expert with exceptional interpersonal, communication, and leadership skills. Ms. Edmondson-Cooper brings passion, innovation, vision, leadership, and practicality to every endeavor. Below are select examples of the projects and speaking engagements in which Ms. Edmondson-Cooper has participated which promote access, equity, and justice for limited English proficient (LEP) persons and persons with disabilities, including the Deaf/Hard of Hearing (DHH). Her experience ranges from national conferences for attorneys, interpreters, and court personnel to statewide judicial conferences to trainings for national bar associations, federal agencies, state agencies, legal non-profits, and beyond.
Georgia Awarded National Grant to Improve Court Interpreter Services
Jun 2015 – Present
Currently leading the development of Georgia’s first comprehensive, step-by-step, model administrative protocol (MAP) to help state courts meet their obligations to provide interpreters and other language services. Under Ms. Edmondson-Cooper’s leadership, the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) awarded the Commission a $15,000 technical assistance grant in support of the MAP as part of a larger national initiative supported by the State Justice Institute (SJI). SJI was established by federal law in 1984 to award grants to improve the quality of justice in state courts and to foster innovative, efficient solutions to common issues faced by all courts. The guide, the first of its kind in Georgia, promotes the reliable and efficient provision of language services in state courts throughout Georgia (a non-unified court system), both for persons with limited English proficiency and for those who are DHH. The guide is adaptable to local needs and has already been adopted by one of Georgia’s largest judicial circuits.
Georgia Justice for All (J4A) Taskforce
Jan 2017 – Dec 2018
Appointed by Chair of State Bar of Georgia Access to Justice Committee, Hon. Jill Pryor (11th Cir.), to serve on access to justice taskforce created by Georgia, one of seven states that received a Justice for All Project Grant from the National Center for State Courts and the Public Welfare Foundation in November 2016.
The Taskforce formed partnerships with all relevant stakeholders in the Georgia civil justice community and beyond to develop statewide assessments and a strategic action plan in order to implement Resolution 5 on Meaningful Access to Justice for All passed by the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators. The strategic plan includes several components including access to justice for limited English proficient and persons with disabilities.
State Bar of Georgia (SBG) Judicial Section Annual Meeting Luncheon
Served as guest speaker for SBG Judicial Section Annual luncheon to discuss the status of language access in Georgia courts with fellow Supreme Court of Georgia Commission on Interpreters members Hon. Dax Lopez and the Hon. Meng Lim. The SBA Judicial Section is comprised of judges on Georgia’s Superior, State, Magistrate, Municipal, Probate, and Juvenile courts as well as the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court. The purpose of the Section is to foster professionalism and excellence in the judiciary, encourage improvements in judicial process and court operations, solicit input from non-judicial bar members upon judicial procedures and court operations, and encourage interaction between bench and bar of the State Bar of Georgia.
Judicial Council of Georgia AFPTCC Revision of GA ADA Handbook
Jan 2016 – Apr 2017
Served as subject-matter expert on Judicial Council of Georgia Access to Justice Committee (formerly Access, Fairness, Public Trust and Confidence Committee “AFPTCC” ) sub-committee charged with revising of the current handbook for Georgia court officials on courtroom accessibility for individuals with disabilities, which includes persons who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing (DHH) and require the use of qualified interpreters and/or auxiliary aids to have meaningful access to Georgia courts.
The mission of the Access to Justice Committee is to improve the public’s trust by focusing on access and fairness through the elimination of systemic barriers related to gender, race, ethnicity, disability and language.
Model Language Access Plan for Georgia Law Enforcement Agencies
Aug 2015 – Jan 2017
Ms. Edmondson-Cooper, along with colleagues Currey Hitchens, Sarah Morris, and Felix Montanez, developed a model language access plan which offers practical suggestions and resources to assist law enforcement agencies (LEA) with meeting their legal obligations to ensure that limited English proficient (LEP) and Deaf/Hard of Hearing (DHH) individuals have meaningful access to the LEA’s services. The model plan is adaptable to local needs and can assist in identifying those who need language assistance; notifying the public of language assistance services; developing procedures for interpretation services in interviews, interrogations, filing complaints, and document translation; outlining training for agency staff and required qualifications for interpreters; and more. As a recipient of federal funds, the failure of LEAs to provide meaningful language access can result in the filing of a federal lawsuit and the possible loss of federal funding under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Safe Streets Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and their implementing regulations.
Ms. Edmondson-Cooper, along with her colleagues, first introduced the model plan to domestic violence stakeholders at the 2015 Georgia Commission on Family Violence Conference. In January 2016, Ms. Edmondson-Cooper presented the plan at the 2016 Winter Conference for the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police. Subsequently, Ms. Edmondson-Cooper worked collaboratively with LEAs in Middle Georgia to assist them with developing their own local language access plans to ensure that the LEA is providing meaningful access to language assistance services for LEP and DHH persons who come in contact with the LEA. Prior to, Ms. Edmondson-Cooper had worked with law enforcement across Middle Georgia routinely in her legal representation of domestic violence victims. In December 2016, after working with Ms. Edmondson-Cooper to adapt the plan to meet local needs, a local LEA adopted and implemented the plan effective January 1, 2017.
Due Process is the Opportunity to be Heard: Legal Obligations, Practical and Ethical Considerations, and Best Practices for Providing Language Access in Georgia Courts (Atlanta Bar Association-Judicial Section)
This training provided Georgia judges with substantive information to assist them with presiding over cases requiring the appointment of foreign language and sign language interpreters, pursuant to federal and state laws and pursuant to policies. Topics of discussion included: 1) a review of the legal underpinnings, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Supreme Court of GA Rule for Use of Interpreters for Non-English Speaking and Hearing Impaired Persons, and recently amended Uniform Superior Court Rule 7.3 (effective 7/13/17); 2) requirement that all appointed interpreters be “qualified” and licensing designations for foreign language and sign language interpreters in Georgia; 3) court’s duty to provide a qualified interpreter, at no cost, in all Georgia legal proceedings, including civil matters, and in court-managed functions; 4) language access within in the lens of Georgia’s Judicial Code of Professional Conduct (Cannon 2); and 5) suggested best practices and resources available to assist Georgia courts with ensuring they are providing LEP participants with disabilities with meaningful access to Georgia courts, including an overview of Chapter 11: Appointing Qualified Interpreters from the State Court Bench Book which has been adopted by the Council of Superior Court Judges, Council of Magistrate Court Judges, Council of Municipal Court Judges, and Council of Probate Court Judges. This training addressed also frequently encountered challenges, including: 1) when an LEP or DHH participant requests or insists on using friends or family members in lieu of a qualified court-appointed interpreter; 2) when one of the attorneys of record is bilingual and speaks the same language as his or her client or the opposing party; 3) when no certified or other licensed interpreter is available for a legal proceeding; 4) the use of telephonic interpreters and other 3rd-party language assistance vendors; 5) securing interpreters for indigenous & other less frequently encountered languages.
Language Access Demystified: Legal Obligations, Ethical Considerations, and Best Practices for New Attorneys (State Bar of Georgia Transition into Law Practice Program)
Provided training to over 100 attorneys on language access as an access to justice issue. The training discussed the legal underpinnings of language access in Georgia courts, ethical and professional responsibility considerations for attorneys regarding language access in their representation of LEP and DHH clients, and best practices to navigate through it all.
The State Bar of Georgia Transition Into Law Practice Program (TILPP), also known as “The Mentoring Program,” is the continuing legal education requirement for lawyers newly admitted to the State Bar of Georgia, unless exempted. The goal of TILPP is to afford beginning lawyers with meaningful access to experienced lawyers equipped to teach the practical skills, seasoned judgment, and sensitivity to ethical and professionalism values necessary to practice law in a highly competent manner.
Revision of [Georgia] Uniform Superior Court Rule 7.3 (Relating to Interpreters)
Under the leadership of the Hon. Dax Lopez (Member, Supreme Court of Georgia Commission on Interpreters), Ms. Edmondson-Cooper served as leading contributor to the revision of Uniform Superior Court Rule 7.3 to include notice requirements for attorneys and pro se litigants when requesting an interpreter in civil and criminal legal proceedings. Additionally, the revised rule clarifies a court’s duty to arrange and pay for foreign language and sign language interpreters forLEP and Deaf/Hard of Hearing court participants in accordance with the Supreme Court of Georgia Rule on Use of Interpreters for Non-English Speaking and Hearing Impaired Persons, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other similar federal laws. The revised rule became effective on July 13, 2017 and was adopted subsequently by Georgia’s other classes of courts.
[U.S. Department of Labor] Language Access Demystified: Historical Perspectives, Legal Obligations, and Practical Considerations for DOL Attorneys
The purpose of this comprehensive language access training for the U.S. Dept. of Labor (DOL)- Office of the Solicitor (SOL) was to provide SOL attorneys with substantive knowledge and best practices that will assist them in their litigation of labor and employment matters involving limited English proficient (LEP) and Deaf/Hard of Hearing (DHH) litigants and witnesses. Topics discussed included:
Historical Perspectives (Presented by Jean Abreu)
- Why Language Access?
- Overview of Language Access Efforts in SOL Region IV
Legal Obligations and Practical Considerations (Presented by Jana J. Edmondson-Cooper)
- Introduction & Commonly Used Terms
- Legal Underpinnings
- Why Are Interpreters Necessary / When to Use an Interpreter
- When to Use a Translator
- Use of Unqualified Interpreters
- Vital Documents
- Flagging a Case for Language Access Issues
- Cultural Competency/ Cross-Cultural Lawyering
- Attorney Professional Responsibility
SOL is the litigation division of the DOL and is composed of a National Office in DC, 7 regional offices and 7 branch offices across the country. Because of the independent litigation authority granted to it by numerous federal statutes, SOL is the second largest litigation division in the U.S. federal government, second to the Department of Justice.
"Language Access and the American Workforce: The Intersection of Labor/Employment, Housing and Language Access"
Served as a featured speaker at the 2017 Fair Housing and Civil Rights Conference hosted by the Georgia Commission on Equal Opportunity (GCEO) and Atlanta Metro Fair Housing (AMFH). During the “Civil Rights, Advocacy and Justice” segment of the conference, presented on the intersection of labor and employment, housing, and language access through a discussion of the housing provisions of the Migrant and Seasonal Workers Protection Act (MSPA) and the “H” provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (e.g., H-2A, H-2B). The presentation also discussed how a worker’s LEP or DHH status can potentially increase his or her vulnerability to mistreatment by an employer which can potentially contribute to the employer violating the aforementioned federal labor laws and the employee being subject to labor trafficking.
Under the auspices of the Georgia Office of the Governor, the mission of GCEO is to eliminated discrimination in employment and housing in the State of Georgia through its Equal Employment Division and Fair Housing Division, respectively.
AMFH is a private, not-for-profit, fair housing organization whose primary purpose is to prevent housing discrimination in the metropolitan Atlanta area and throughout the state of Georgia.
American Bar Association Webinar: "Ethics and Equal Access to Justice in All Languages: Title VI and Consideration of Title II"
Serving as Moderator and Panelist, discussed the legal requirement of state courts to provide meaningful access to LEP and DHH persons as required by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, other federal laws, state laws , and regulations.
Eliminating Barriers to Justice III: Language Access, the Americans with Disabilities Act and Georgia’s Criminal and Civil Justice Systems
Eliminating Barriers to Justice III ( EBJ3) is the third installment of Eliminating Barriers to Justice series founded in 2014.
EBJ3 highlights included:
Access to Justice & the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) – Discussion of professionalism issues within the contexts of a court’s legal responsibility to provide auxiliary aids and services and other reasonable accommodations to persons with disabilities (including and beyond interpretation services) involved in civil and criminal legal proceedings. This module also included a discussion of Georgia’s ADA Handbook for Georgia courts currently under revision.
Language Access & Criminal Law – Discussion of the importance of the use of qualified interpreters in criminal matters and the risk of reversible error on appeal when use of an unqualified or no interpreter occurs, as established by Supreme Court of Georgia precedent. This module discussed possible ethical implications for attorneys (including those working in District Attorney, Solicitor General and Public Defender offices) and judges when criminal litigants, witnesses or other court participants, particularly those who are LEP/DHH, are not provided with meaningful access to the justice system.
Judicial Roundtable – “The Essence of Due Process is the Opportunity to Be Heard” – Hon. Keith Blackwell, Justice, Supreme Court of Georgia – Hon. Harold Melton, Justice, Supreme Court of Georgia – Hon. Sara Doyle, Chief Judge, Georgia Court of Appeals – Hon. Horace Johnson, Judge, Superior Court (Alcovy Circuit) – Hon. Kristina Hammer Blum, Chief Magistrate Judge, Gwinnett County Magistrate Court
[U.S. Trustee's Office] Ensuring Access to Justice for LEP and DHH Creditors in Section 341 Meetings: Language Access and Professional Responsibility
Addressed language access and attorney ethics/professional responsibility at Region 21 Ch. 7 Trustee Annual Training. Discussion included common ethical pitfalls in the context of language access as well as best practice tips regarding how to identify the need for a qualified interpreter in Section 341 meetings.
[Prosecuting Attorneys' Council of Georgia] Witness Considerations: Working with LEP, DHH, and LGBTQ Survivors of Domestic Violence
Provided training to prosecutors and victim advocates at statewide domestic violence training sponsored by the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia. Topics discussed included common tactics of power and control as related to abuse experienced by limited English proficient survivors (including immigration-related abuse), survivors with disabilities (particularly the Deaf/Hard of Hearing), and LGBTQ survivors. Attendees were educated on key considerations and best practice tips for preparing survivors to testifying at trial.
[National Center for State Courts] The Essence of Due Process is the Opportunity to be Heard
National Center for State Courts Council of Language Access Coordinators (CLAC) 4th Annual Conference (invitation only) – New Orleans, Louisiana
The CLAC is a partnership of member states that has pooled financial and other resources to develop, maintain, and administer court interpreting exams to support states’ court interpreter certification programs and other language-access services. Additional information about the CLAC and the National Center for State Courts language access resources may be found here.
As Chair of the Supreme Court of Georgia Commission on Interpreters’ Model Administrative Protocol (MAP) Development Committee, Ms. Edmondson-Cooper was invited to present on Georgia’s efforts developing a step-by-step, model guide for the provision of language services across the state. The first its kind in Georgia, and believed to be the first of its kind in any non-unified state court system, the MAP is an innovative resource tool that will promote the reliable and efficient provision of language services to limited English proficient persons and persons who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing requiring meaningful access to Georgia’s judicial system .
Faculty, Spring Conference of Georgia State Court Judges - "Language Access Demystified: Beneficial Insight on the Necessity of Qualified Interpreters
Ms. Edmondson-Cooper served as a Faculty member at annual Spring Conference of State Court Judges sponsored by the Georgia Institute of Continuing Judicial Education (ICJE). State Courts exercise limited jurisdiction within one county. State Court judges hear misdemeanors including traffic violations, issue search and arrest warrants, hold preliminary hearings in criminal cases and try civil matters not reserved exclusively for the superior courts. Topics of discussion included: Georgia’s language access policy, federal and state authority requiring Georgia’s trial courts to provide qualified interpreters at no cost in all cases, ethical considerations regarding the use of bilingual attorneys and interpreters, and the risk of reversible error on appeal when no interpreter or an unqualified interpreter is appointed.
Presenter, Georgia Department of Community Affairs Statewide Rental Assistance Employee Training
Apr 2015, May 2015
Featured trainer on language access and fair housing at two statewide trainings hosted by the Georgia Dept. of Community Affairs (DCA) on April 29, 2015 and May 4, 2015, respectively.
DCA promotes and implements community and economic development, local government assistance, and safe and affordable housing. Using state and federal resources, DCA helps communities spur private job creation, implement planning, develop downtowns, generate affordable housing solutions and promote volunteerism. DCA also helps qualified low- and moderate- income Georgians buy homes, rent housing, and prevent foreclosure and homelessness.
Ms. Edmondson-Cooper’s presentation, entitled “Not an Option but the Law: Language Access and Fair Housing,” discussed the legal obligations of HUD funding to provide LEP and DHH individuals with meaningful access to their programs by providing adequate interpretation and translation services, as needed. Provided and discussed sample language access plans public housing authorities and other fair housing providers may use to ensure they are compliant with their legal obligations.
Secrets and Stilettos: Real Talk About Healthy Dating Relationships
***Secrets and Stilettos is an award-winning domestic violence program created by Georgia Legal Services Program (GLSP) attorney Tomieka Daniel in 2012 to diminish the stigma surrounding domestic violence and provide life-saving information to our communities. GLSP’s annual signature domestic violence event – hosted by the Macon Regional Office of GLSP- Secret & Stilettos has been a proactive step to protect the women and teens ( girls and boys) in our community. Approximately 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year in this country. Women between the ages of 18 and 24 constitute the primary group affected by domestic violence. Because one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, our community must be informed to deal with it. Reacting to domestic violence is not enough to eradicate the issue; we must become proactive. ***
Attracting news media from around the region, the 2015 year’s Secrets & Stilettos event – which attracted approximately 500 attendees – helped raise awareness about the issue of domestic violence in Middle Georgia. The goal was to spread awareness of domestic violence amongst women in the community, including college students, and teens (ages 13 and up) by sharing knowledge and personal stories eventually making more women feel comfortable enough to come forward if they are being abused. Just as important, this event also educated young men about why it is not okay to be abusers ( or to be abused) as well as educated parents about warning signs to look for regarding whether their child might be a victim or abuser as well as dealing with domestic violence among adults. Judge Glenda Hatchett graciously served as the keynote speaker.
Panelist, National Association of Judicial Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT) Annual Conference
This discussion panel featured key stakeholders responsible for ensuring meaningful language access to Georgia’s courts. During the session , the challenges encountered by court interpreters were explored , and proven “best practices” and resources were presented to help ensure compliance with the demands of the Code of Professional Responsibility for Interpreters. Ms. Edmondson discussed “Exploring A Uniform Standard of Practice for Working with Court Interpreters in Georgia.”
Session objectives included; 1) attendees gaining an understanding of the role played by different judges, courts , and the Supreme Court of Georgia Commission on Interpreters in ensuring access to justice through the role played by interpreters in Georgia courts, 2) attendees receiving a status update on Georgia’s Language Access Plan and how it may impact the interpreter’s role, 3) discussing model protocols for working with interpreters and ways of incorporating best practices, 4) considering how interpreters can participate as stakeholders in supporting any improvements made to court procedure and promote the adoption of best practices for working with court interpreters.
Faculty, Winter Conference of Superior Court Judges - " Access to Qualified Interpreters Demystified"
Presenter at annual Winter Conference of Superior Court Judges hosted by Georgia’s Institute of Continuing Judicial Education. Georgia’s superior courts are courts of general jurisdiction responsible for handling cases involving serious crimes (felonies), civil disputes, real estate matters and family and domestic relations issues. Training topics included, but not limited to,: 1) how superior court judges can easily access licensed interpreters via the Supreme Court of Georgia Commission on Interpreters (COI) on-line interpreter registry and other resources, 2) pertinent sections of the Supreme Court of Georgia Rule for Use of Interpreters for Non-English Speaking and Hearing Impaired Persons including but not limited to COI licensing designations for interpreters,3) the right to an interpreter as applied to civil cases and 4) suggested best practices for ensuring limited English proficient and Deaf/Hard of Hearing litigants and witnesses have meaningful access to Georgia courts including a discussion of ethical considerations regarding the use of bilingual attorneys and interpreters.
Eliminating Barriers to Justice II: Why and How to Ensure Language Access for Limited English Proficient and Deaf/Hard of Hearing Litigants
As co-founder of the Eliminating Barriers to Justice (EBJ) series, Ms. Edmondson-Cooper was honored to Co-Chair Georgia’s second annual , comprehensive statewide language access CLE – Eliminating Barriers to Justice II (EBJ2). The EBJ series was founded in 2014 to provide comprehensive education and resource tools to GA’s access to justice stakeholders, inclding judges, attorneys, interpreters, and others. Language access experts and key stakeholders from across the state met on Thursday, March 26, 2015 for EBJ2 and discussed access to justice for Limited English Proficient (LEP) and Deaf or Hard of Hearing (DHH) litigants. This seminar provided innovative and comprehensive, yet practical, information to attorneys, judges and interpreters on the professionalism and ethical considerations raised in connection with ensuring meaningful language access in Georgia courts. CLE and ICJE credits approved. 4 hours General , 1 hour Ethics and 1 hour Professionalism.
Seminar highlights included a welcome by the Hon. Hugh Thompson, Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Georgia, a stakeholders panel moderated by the Hon. Christopher J. McFadden, Judge, Georgia Court of Appeals / Vice Chair, Supreme Court of Georgia Commission on Interpreters and a keynote address by the Hon. Keith Blackwell, Justice, Supreme Court of Georgia / Chair, Supreme Court of Georgia Commission on Interpreters.
Additional details available here.
State Bar of Georgia MidYear Meeting Pro Bono Panel - "Use Your Other Language"
Co-Sponsored by the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism and State Bar of Georgia Pro Bono Project, this roundtable discussion addressed the need and opportunities for all Georgia lawyers to engage in ensuring access to justice throughout Georgia through pro bono activities, including “Using Your Other Language” covered by Ms. Edmondson-Cooper.
Other Topics and Speakers included:
The Need and the Responsibility
Chief Justice Hugh P. Thompson, Supreme Court of Georgia, Atlanta
Rural Pro Bono
Tremaine Teddy Reese, Georgia Appleseed, Columbus
Metro-Atlanta Pro Bono
Michael Lucas, Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation, Atlanta
Corporate/Law Firm Pro Bono
Rachel Spears, ProBono Project, Atlanta
Meeting the Need Can Be Fun
Damon E. Elmore, Moore Sparks, LLC, Atlanta
Pro Bono and Technology: Tips for Participating
Michael L. Monahan, Pro Bono Project
Questions and Answers, Wrap-Up and Acknowledgements
Avarita L. Hanson, Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism
15th Annual Georgia Legal Ethics and Professionalism Symposium
Served as featured speaker for the lunch-hour plenary session. Delivered presentation to 113 attendees entitled: “Professionalism and Language Access:Ensuring Meaningful Access to Justice for Immigrant and Limited English Proficient Litigants.” Presentation included remarks from Hon. Melodie Clayton (Cobb County State Court/ Supreme Court Commission on Interpreters (COI) Member about the interpreter professional responsibility and the history of the COI).
With the assistance of a Certified Interpreter, I delivered the first 10-15 minutes of my substantive presentation in Spanish with the goal of permitting attendees to experience what is like to rely on an interpreter to understand what is going on. The presentation focused on several ABA Model Rules for Professional Conduct and highlighted the dynamics of those rules as related to representing limited English proficient and Deaf/Hard of Hearing clients. Attendees also had an opportunity to participate in interactive exercises, including one which modeled the consecutive mode of interpretation.
Institute of Continuing Judicial Education Judicial Law Clerk's Conference
Invited by the Institute of Continuing Judicial Education (ICJE) to address judicial law clerks/ judicial staff attorneys from across the state of Georgia in each class of GA trial court. The ICJE is a resource consortium of the Georgia Judicial Branch, the State Bar of Georgia, and the ABA accredited law schools of the State (Emory, Georgia State, Mercer, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, and the University of Georgia). It bears primary responsibility for basic training and continuing education of elected officials, court support personnel and volunteer agents of the State’s judicial branch.
Topics discussed during the Judicial Law Clerks training included, but were not limited to, Introduction to state policy on right to language access in courts for LEP and DHH individuals, Role of an Interpreter, Intro to the Supreme Court of Georgia Commission on Interpreters (COI), Licensing Designations of Interpreters provided by COI, How to address need for interpreters of languages not provided by COI.
Georgia Commission on Family Violence Annual Conference
Invited by Georgia Commission on Family Violence to present to attorneys, domestic violence advocates, and members of law enforcement from across the state attending the 2014 annual conference. The conference attracted over 300 attendees.
The Dynamics of Domestic Violence as Experienced by Immigrants and Limited English Proficient (LEP) Individuals: How Advocates, Attorneys, and Law Enforcement Can Ensure and Provide Meaningful Access to Justice
Immigration-related abuse plays on the particular vulnerabilities of immigrant domestic violence victims. Fear created by immigration-related abuse exacerbates the difficulties immigrant victims often face in leaving an abuser and seeking help, including contacting law enforcement. This workshop examined the dynamics of domestic violence as experienced by immigrant victims, especially those with limited or no ability to communicate in English. The goal of the workshop was to help advocates, attorneys and/or members of law enforcement to: 1) better understand immigration-related abuse and how it frequently creates additional barriers for victims of domestic violence; 2) recognize the most common forms of abuse used by abusers to maintain power and control over immigrant victims ; 3) effectively identify and address language barriers when assisting immigrant victims of domestic violence; 4) understand federal and state laws that require the provision of free language services at no cost to LEP victims/litigants/witnesses.
Keynote Speaker, Georgia Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (GATESOL) Regional Conference
Served as the keynote speaker for TESOL- GA Affiliate Regional Conference in Warner Robins, Georgia.
Topic: “Recognition, Collaboration and Implementation: The ABCs of Education and Language Access in Georgia”
For more than 50 years, TESOL International Association has been providing community to educators, researchers, administrators, and students in the ELT field. With more than 12,000 members representing 160 countries, and more than 100 worldwide affiliates, TESOL offers educators the opportunity to be part of a dynamic professional community and join in TESOL’s mission to advance excellence in English language teaching.
2013 Georgia Domestic Violence Fatallity Review Project - 10th Annual Report (GA Commission on Family Violence/GA Coalition Against Domestic Violence)
Invited to contribute as a subject-matter expert regarding the dynamics of domestic violence as experienced by immigrant victims, especially those immigrant victims with limited or no ability to communicate in English.
The Georgia Domestic Violence Fatality Review Project is a collaborative partnership between the Georgia Commission on Family Violence and the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Initiated in 2004, the Project operates under grants awarded by Georgia’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council with funding from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.
Through Georgia’s Fatality Review Teams, several themes and gaps in services have been identified in the lives of victims of domestic violence and the systems that are in place to help them. The information that has been collected, coupled with the implementation of recommendations by Fatality Review Teams, has led to an increase in intentional and effective partnerships, system collaboration, and sincere effort to reduce the amount of complicated barriers that victims face when seeking to escape violence at the hands of their abusers in Georgia.
A goal of this project is to reduce domestic violence-related fatalities by using information learned from past fatalities. Each Annual Report builds on the last and contains data and analysis related to the year just prior to the published report.
Leaders Share Winning Philosophies
Invited to participate in Spelman College’s “Leaders Share Winning Philosophies” initiative. One of the founding principles of a Spelman College education is leadership — in one’s community and chosen career path. Students are encouraged and empowered to become leaders through the College’s curriculum and leadership development programs like Women of Excellence in Leadership and Spelman Women Empowered Through Professional Training. Following in the footsteps of notable alumnae leaders like Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, C’60, and Spelman’s board chair Rosalind Brewer, C’84, are an emerging group of alumnae leaders who are making global strides in the public and private sectors.
Voices from the Field: Moving to Be heard
Co-Founder, Co-Chair, and featured speaker at “Eliminating Barriers to Justice: Addressing Ethical Obligations, Cultural Competency, and Best Practices for Ensuring Meaningful Language Access in Georgia Courts,” Georgia attorneys from across the state share common issues encountered by their LEP and/or DHH clients.
Additional details available here.
Statewide Education Law Training, “Public Education: School Enrollment and the Rights of Non-Parents and LEP Parents"
Presenter at Georgia Legal Services Program’s statewide education law training for all attorneys and paralegals (management and non- management). Addressed school enrollment issues frequently experienced by non-parents/guardians and provided practical advocacy tips for representing clients facing these issues. Addressed recent amendments to GA SBOE Rule 160 – 5 – 1 -.28. Addressed use of non-parental affidavits and the general prohibition and exceptions of school district’s demanding the custodial adult to have a legal guardianship before they can enroll a child in school. Addressed provisional enrollment, 2011 DOJ/DOE Dear Colleague Letter as well as the 2012 DOE/Henry County School District Settlement. Highlighted *Plyler* issues faced by LEP parents and non-parents including SSNs and the right to language access services pursant to Title IV of the CRA of 1964.
Georgia Legal Services Program (GLSP) is a non-profit law firm whose mission is promote access to justice and opportunities out of poverty. GLSP provides direct legal services to low-income Georgians in 154 of Georgia’s 159 counties.
Secrets & Stilettos: Saving Our Sisters
Secrets & Stilettos: Saving Our Sisters was a proactive step to protect the women in our community. Approximately 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year in this country. Women between the ages of 18 and 24 constitute the primary group affected by domestic violence. Because one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, our community must be informed deal with it. Reacting to domestic violence is not enough to eradicate the issue; we must become proactive. Secrets & Stilettos in 2013 attracted over 250 women and girls from the surrounding communities and helped raise awareness about the issue of domestic violence in the Macon regional community. The goal of the program was to provide awareness of domestic violence amongst professional, working women in the community, including college students, by sharing knowledge and personal stories eventually making more women feel comfortable enough to come forward if they are being abused. Just as important, this event armed women with the information to protect them from becoming victims of dating or domestic violence. Topics of discussion included the affect of pop culture on domestic violence, human sex trafficking, ways out of violent relationships, counseling options, and legal options for victims, including immigrant women victims with limited ability to communicate in English. This community event was made possible by the support of Flint Energies Foundation, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.-Sigma Epsilon Omega, Georgia Legal Services Program, and the Houston County (GA) District Attorney’s Office.
Language Access Made Easy: Laws and Practices for Ensuring LEP Clients Have Meaningful Access to Public Benefits in Georgia
Invited by Georgia Department of Human Services – Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) to train employees on language access in connection to the administration of agency services. Provided comprehensive review of the the agency’s legal obligation to provide free language access services under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, EO 13166, and USDOJ Guidance. Also discussed obligations under the agency’s statewide and local language access policies and procedures as well as provided practical tips for ensuring compliance with federal and state regulations.
DFCS investigates reports of child abuse; finds foster and adoptive homes for abused and neglected children; issues SNAP, Medicaid and TANF; helps out-of-work parents get back on their feet; and provides numerous support services and innovative programs to help families in need.
"Enhancing Language Access" - National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in Courts 25th Annual Conference
In the year since the American Bar Association adopted new guidelines for language access in the courts, proponents said today that although there’s been progress, court systems nationwide can do much more to ensure all litigants understand what’s happening when they step inside a courthouse. Leading a panel on language access at the National Consortium on Race and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts’ annual conference, District of Columbia Court of Appeals Senior Judge Vanessa Ruiz said that the cost of services is always the “big elephant in the room.”
Working With Interpreters: An Effective Method for Providing Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Advocacy
This 76 minute Institute for Continuing Legal Education in Georgia (ICLE)-approved webinar discussed the importance of providing effective representation of LEP clients. Topics discussed include, but are not limited to,: What is Limited English Proficiency?; Sources of Law; Role of an Interpreter; Effect on Attorney-Client Privilege; and Practical Tips for Working with an Interpreter. Private attorneys who volunteered with Georgia Legal Services Program were eligible to earn 1 hour of CLE credit.
Eliminating Barriers to Justice: Addressing Ethical Obligations, Cultural Competency, and Best Practices for Ensuring Meaningful Language Access in Georgia Courts
Served as co-founder and Co-Chair for this innovative, important and timely language access CLE which occured on February 20, 2014 at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School~Blackburn Conference Center. “Eliminating Barriers to Justice” was a comprehensive, yet practical, training where language access stakeholders, especially attorneys and judges, were trained on best practices when using interpreters in legal proceedings, strengthening cultural competency skills and legal ethics in connection with language access. The training provided attorneys the tools they needed to advocate effectively on behalf of their limited English proficient (LEP) clients, including how to request and ensure effective interpretation in legal proceedings. Seminar highlights included:
· Welcome by Hon. Keith Blackwell, Justice, Supreme Court of Georgia / Chair, Georgia Commission on Interpreters (COI)
· Keynote Address by the Hon. Harold Melton, Justice, Supreme Court of Georgia / Immediate Past Chair, COI
· “Legal Underpinnings of Language Access – A Stakeholders Panel”
– Hon. Christopher J. McFadden, Judge, Georgia Court of Appeals / Member, COI (Moderator)
– Ms. Yolanda Lewis, District Court Administrator, Fulton County Superior Court / Member, COI
– Hon. Dax Lopez, Judge, DeKalb County State Court
– Ms. Lisa J. Krisher, Director of Litigation, Georgia Legal Services Program
– Ms. Marla Moore, Director, Georgia Administrative Office of the Courts
– Hon. Tilman E. Self, III, Chief Judge, Bibb County Superior Court
– Hon. Gail S. Tusan, Chief Judge-Elect, Fulton County Superior Court
· Model Motions & Briefs, Model language access plans, information on cultural competency / ethical considerations of representing LEP/DHH individuals, and best practices for working with interpreter.
Full details available here.
Enforcing Title VI - Ensuring LEP Individuals Have Meaningful Access to Georgia's Food Stamp Program
This 72 minute Institute for Continuing Legal Education in Georgia (ICLE)-approved webinar discussed the obligation under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for federal funding recipients to make reasonable efforts to provide meaningful access to their benefits and services free of charge. Specifically, this webinar addresses the disparate treatment many limited English proficient (LEP) individuals face in trying to obtain and maintain benefits via the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) here in Georgia. Volunteer attorneys with Georgia Legal Services Program may earn 1 hour of CLE credit.