NC JUSTICE NEWS: Interpreters in NC Courts + Economic Snapshots + Women & the Economy

March 13, 2012

COURT INTERPRETERS: DOJ finds NC violates Civil Rights Act

In a tremendous move last week, the U.S. Department of Justice determined that the lack of court access for non-English speakers in North Carolina violates the Civil Rights Act. Hopefully the move will provide some much-needed relief to the many individuals who have been denied access to interpreters in court proceedings.

Last spring, the N.C. Justice Center filed an administrative complaint on behalf of the Latin American Coalition, Muslim American Society and Vietnamese Association of Charlotte, claiming that NC courts have failed to provide interpreters for individuals who have limited English proficiency in civil and some criminal court proceedings, leaving them in the dark during critical court proceedings. The complaint requested an investigation into NC’s justice system to see whether the lack of foreign language interpreters violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin by state courts and prohibits those courts from administering programs that subject individuals to similar discrimination.

Upon investigating the NC Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), the Dept. of Justice determined that their policies did in fact discriminate on the basis of national origin by failing to provide individuals with limited English proficiency with access to state court proceedings. Most significantly, the report found these policies resulted in serious harm for individuals in cases related to domestic violence, child custody, housing eviction, and wage disputes.

The cost of expanding interpreter services would be only 0.3% of the AOC’s yearly budget of $463.8 million, a small price to pay for a fairer and accessible justice system in our state. If the AOC fails to notify the Dept. of Justice by March 29 of their intent to remedy these violations, the NC courts run the risk of losing millions of dollars in federal funding.

ECONOMIC SNAPSHOTS: A complete picture of NC's 100 counties

The Budget & Tax Center released new economic snapshots for North Carolina’s counties on Monday, shedding light on what’s truly going on in counties across the state.

Using 2010 and 2011 date, the Economic Snapshot provides data for all 100 counties in North Carolina, including indicators on employment, poverty and income, housing, health, education, and supports for working families. This comprehensive data provides an overall picture of economic vitality and opportunity for North Carolinians, and, for the first time, the snapshots also include data on longevity and education outcomes.

Click here for the complete county snapshots, as well as an interactive map of the snapshots. Users click on the county of interest to access the data.

WOMEN & THE ECONOMY: Slow recovery, budget cuts hit women

In light of International Women’s Day last week, the NC Justice Center released a fact sheet on women and the economy, highlighting the important role of the 2.3 million women in North Carolina’s labor force.

The fact sheet also focused on the structural inequalities for women that have been worsened by budget cuts and North Carolina’s weak economic recovery. Throughout the recession, men suffered greater job losses than women, but as men began returning to work after the recession, women continued to lose jobs. At the same time, there were deep cuts in the state budget and programs for women, such as education, early childhood programs, Medicaid, and residential programs that serve formerly incarcerated women and their children.

Women in North Carolina still only earn 80.7 percent of men’s earnings, and over a lifetime, women with the same education level as men earn approximately one-quarter less than their male counterparts. In honor of both International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month (March), it’s vital that North Carolinians remain vigilant in working towards women’s equality and battling these deep structural inequalities.

FIGHT FORECLOSURE: "March to the Red Carpet" in Greensboro

Join Occupy Foreclosure and Occupy Greensboro for the "Save Our Community: Fight Foreclosure!” march and movie premiere event in Greensboro on March 14.

This "March to the Red Carpet" event will be held in honor of the premiere of "Let's Lose Our House: A Modern Foreclosure Tale" at the Carolina Theater, 310 South Greene Street in Greensboro. A cross-town march is planned from Interactive Resource Center (IRC) to the Carolina Theater. Marchers will assemble at IRC, 407 East Washington Street, at 6:15 P.M. following a free soup supper and proceed to the Carolina Theater.

Participating organizations include IRC, Guilford Home Ownership Center, Greensboro Housing Coalition, YWCA, American Friends Service Committee, North Carolina Justice Center, Unity in Greensboro Church and Tables will be set up in the theater lobby for attendees to speak directly with experts on hand to advise them about fighting fraudulent foreclosure procedures and available resources to help them keep their homes. For more information contact Nathan Pius at

"OUT OF CONTROL" TOUR: Public forums in Charlotte, Wilmington

The General Assembly’s “midnight attack” on North Carolina’s teachers in January revealed a remarkable willingness to ram through an extreme agenda, no matter what it takes.

Please join N.C. Policy Watch and some key progressive allies at a series of public forums that will explore: how North Carolina's extreme right-wing General Assembly is turning back the clock, who's bankrolling its agenda, and what it means for our lives. You’ll have a chance to ask questions and share your perspective, too.

  • Charlotte: Tuesday, March 13, 7:00 p.m., Teamsters Local Union 71, 2529 Beltway Blvd. Featured speakers: Chris Fitzsimon, Chris Kromm, MaryBe McMillan, Robert Dawkins. Register here.
  • Wilmington: Wed., March 28, 7:00 p.m., ILA 1426 Hall, 1305 S. 5th Ave. Featured speakers: Rob Schofield, Chris Kromm, MaryBe McMillan, Nancy Shakir. Register here.


The Justice Center presents its Defender of Justice Awards to honor individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions in the fight against poverty in four areas that reflect the scope of the Justice Center’s work.

The event will be held on Thursday, May 10, 2012 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Bay 7 in the American Tobacco Campus, Durham. Recipients will be announced in the upcoming weeks. Purchase your ticket today.

CRUCIAL CONVERSATION: When government promotes gambling

For several years now, corporate gambling interests have been ratcheting up their investments in North Carolina. Gambling money can be found in the campaign coffers of politicians of all stripes and gambling corporations are listed amongst the clients of several of the state’s top law and lobbying firms. The goal of these investments is clear: Gambling corporations seek not just to eliminate government as an impediment to gambling but to make public institutions full partners in their efforts.

Will it work? Is it just a matter of time until North Carolina follows the road traveled by so many other states? Is the expansion of gambling something to be resisted or just a lost cause of which we should simply make the best? Join NC Policy Watch for a Crucial Conversation on this hotly contested issue, featuring Les Bernal, Executive Director of Stop Predatory Gambling Foundation, and Prof. Charles Clotfelter, Z. Smith Reynolds Professor of Public Policy Studies and Professor of Economics and Law at Duke University.

The luncheon will be held on Tuesday, March 27, 12:00 p.m. at the Marbles Kids Museum in downtown Raleigh. Click here to register for this event and contact Rob Schofield at with any questions.


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