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Ohio officials launch Welcome Dayton program to translate legal documents for immigrants

Thank you Dayton Municipal Court for making justice more accessible for those in need of legal help. Comments from ABLE Attorney Jessica Ramos appear in this article that  appears on Lawyer Herald. Read below or view on the website.

Ohio officials launch Welcome Dayton program to translate legal documents for immigrants

City officials in Dayton, Ohio have initiated a new program aimed at helping immigrants understand the various documents issued by the municipal court system. According to the officials, the new program, called Welcome Dayton, was launched after the number of court cases involving individuals from other countries increased during the past years.

As first reported by the Dayton Daily News, the Dayton Municipal Court has seen a surge in the number of plaintiffs, victims and defendants with roots from different parts of the world including Russia, Turkey, China, Africa and the Middle East. Although some of them can effectively speak and understand English, most of them are having a hard time adapting to this language.

This often results in misunderstandings that affect the legal procedures of the municipal court. As a solution, the Dayton Municipal Court, in collaboration with other legal entities, have decided to launch a new initiative to tackle the language barrier issue.

Through the Welcome Dayton program, members from the involved departments will work together to translate various legal documents issued to the immigrants. These include sentence orders and notification letters released by the prosecutor's office of Montgomery County.

According to Ann Murray, an administrator for the Dayton Municipal Court, the program was launched in order to provide everyone the right to comprehend the details of their cases. In addition, it also coincides with an ordinance implemented by the city last year which states that residents should still be able to access the various services offered by the government despite their lack of English proficiency, WHIO reported.

Before the implementation of the program, court documents in Dayton were only translated into Spanish. However, during the recent years, the number of dialects spoken by residents in the city have grown to 50 due to the influx of immigrants.

For Jessica Ramos, a lawyer for the Advocates for Basic Legal Equality group, the program is one way to help immigrants adapt to the city's judicial system. But, she noted that additional services should also be implemented.

"Courts need to continue to expand access to ensure that [limited English proficiency] individuals can fully participate in all stages, just as any English-speaker could," she said according to Dayton Daily News.