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Complaint to the Department of Justice Regarding National Origin Discrimination in the First Parish Court of Jefferson Parish

The SPLC filed a federal civil rights complaint after discovering that Latinos with limited English proficiency were being treated more harshly for traffic offenses than others appearing before a Jefferson Parish court in the suburbs of New Orleans, Louisiana.

The complaint to the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) was filed on behalf of four people charged with traffic offenses in the First Parish Court of Jefferson Parish.

In addition to paying fines and court fees, they were forced to attend and pay for overpriced English classes as a requirement of probation. They were also charged, without their consent, for inadequate interpretation services in court. They were forced by court officials to sign forms written only in English, and their assigned interpreters failed to explain the charges against them and did not properly convey the complainants’ evidence to the judge.

The DOJ has repeatedly told courts that they must inform defendants of all charges pending against them and make interpretation services available free of charge.