The Indiana Court Interpreter Program is the result of an interim recommendation made to the Supreme Court by the Indiana Commission on Race and Gender Fairness. At the request of the Supreme Court, in 2000, the Indiana General Assembly funded the Indiana Supreme Court Commission on Race and Gender Fairness to investigate ways to improve race and gender fairness in the courts, legal system among legal service providers, state and local governments, and among public organizations.
As part of its research, the Commission conducted public hearings throughout Indiana during the summer of 2001. While citizens voiced numerous race and gender-related concerns at these hearings, the issue raised most frequently was the lack of a court interpreter system in Indiana. The Commission heard reports of fraudulent conduct by persons acting as interpreters, reliance upon friends and family members untrained in the law and not well educated in either language and in whose hands were entrusted the property and liberty interest of non-English speaking litigants who had to go to court. Of even greater concern were reports of police officers serving as interpreters in criminal court proceedings because of lack of funding for trained and qualified interpreters, despite their obvious conflict of interest. The Commission's research indicated that Indiana was ill-prepared to deal with persons who do not speak English or have limited understanding of English, whether these persons appear in court as victims of crime, witnesses, civil litigants, or criminal defendants.
|Visit the Court Interpreter Certification Program website for more information.|
The Commission has issued to the Indiana Supreme Court a final report containing recommendations for enhancing race and gender fairness within the Indiana judicial system. This report was completed and distributed at the end of 2002. The Commission has provided assistance, as the Supreme Court desires, in implementing recommendations adopted by the Supreme Court. Since its inception, the Commission has researched statistical census, demographic data, and a wide range of issues that effect people in the judiciary because of race, gender, or both.
On October 14-15, 2005, the Commission on Race and Gender Fairness hosted a Diversity Summit at the Madame Walker Theatre and Indiana University - Indianapolis Law School. The Diversity Summit brought together representatives of the judiciary, law schools, bar associations, law enforcement, corrections and other public organizations to discuss pertinent issues affecting race and gender in the legal system today.
|Visit the Diversity Summit webpage for more information|
During 2004, the Commission on Race and Gender Fairness partnered with the Women in Law Section of the Indiana State Bar Association and the Women in Law Division of the Indianapolis Bar Association to formulate a more detailed study examining perceptions and practices within the legal profession with respect to gender issues. Utilizing a sample from the 2004 Roll of Attorneys, the study was mailed to a random sample of 2000 individuals, both male and female attorneys. Of this sample, 940 surveys were completed with a response rate of approximately 45 percent. The Indiana University Public Opinion Laboratory compiled the results, and they were later used on the basis for a law review article, "The Future of Women in the Legal Profession: Recognizing the Challenges Ahead by Reviewing Current Trends" authored by María Pabón López, Associate Professor of Law, IU School of Law, published in 19 Hastings Womens Law Journal 53 (2008).