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2024 California Rules of Court

Rule 2.851. Language access services complaints

(a) Purpose

The purpose of this rule is to ensure that each superior court makes available a form on which court users may submit a complaint about the provision of, or the failure to provide, language access and that each court has procedures for handling those complaints. Courts must implement this rule as soon as reasonably possible but no later than December 31, 2018.

(b) Complaint form and procedures required

Each superior court must adopt a language access services complaint form and complaint procedures that are consistent with this rule.

(c) Minimum requirement for complaint form

The language access services complaint form adopted by the court must meet the following minimum requirements:

(1)  Be written in plain language;

(2)  Allow court users to submit complaints about how the court provided or failed to provide language services;

(3)  Allow court users to specify whether the complaint relates to court interpreters, other staff, or local translations;

(4)  Include the court's mailing address and an e-mail contact to show court users how they may submit a language access complaint;

(5)  Be made available for free both in hard copy at the courthouse and online on the courts' website, where court users can complete the form online and then submit to the court by hand, postal mail, or e-mail; and

(6)  Be made available in the languages spoken by significant portions of the county population.

(d) General requirements for complaint procedures

The complaint procedures adopted by the court must provide for the following:

(1)  Submission and referral of local language access complaints

(A)  Language access complaints may be submitted anonymously.

(B)  Language access complaints may be submitted orally or in other written formats; however, use of the court's local form is encouraged to ensure tracking and that complainants provide full information to the court.

(C)  Language access complaints regarding local court services should be submitted to the court's designated Language Access Representative.

(D)  A complaint submitted to the improper entity must immediately be forwarded to the appropriate court, if that can be determined, or, where appropriate, to the Judicial Council.

(2)  Acknowledgment of complaint

Except where the complaint is submitted anonymously, within 30 days after the complaint is received, the court's Language Access Representative must send the complainant a written acknowledgment that the court has received the complaint.

(3)  Preliminary review and disposition of complaints

Within 60 days after receipt of the complaint, the court's Language Access Representative should conduct a preliminary review of every complaint to determine whether the complaint can be informally resolved or closed, or whether the complaint warrants additional investigation. Court user complaints regarding denial of a court interpreter for a courtroom proceeding for pending cases should be given priority.

(4)  Procedure for complaints not resolved through the preliminary review

If a complaint cannot be resolved through the preliminary review process within 60 days after receipt of the complaint, the court's Language Access Representative should inform the complainant (if identified) that the complaint warrants additional review.

(5)  Notice of outcome

Except where the complaint is submitted anonymously, the court must send the complainant notice of the outcome taken on the complaint.

(6)  Promptness

The court must process complaints promptly.

(7)  Records of complaints

The court should maintain information about each complaint and its disposition. The court must report to the Judicial Council on an annual basis the number and kinds of complaints received, the resolution status of all complaints, and any additional information about complaints requested by Judicial Council staff to facilitate the monitoring of the Strategic Plan for Language Access in the California Courts.

(8)  Disagreement (Disputing) Notice of Outcome

If a complainant disagrees with the notice of the outcome taken on his or her complaint, within 90 days of the date the court sends the notice of outcome, he or she may submit a written follow-up statement to the Language Access Representative indicating that he or she disagrees with the outcome of the complaint. The follow-up statement should be brief, specify the basis of the disagreement, and describe the reasons the complainant believes the court's action lacks merit. For example, the follow-up statement should indicate why the complainant disagrees with the notice of outcome or believes that he or she did not receive an adequate explanation in the notice of outcome. The court's response to any follow-up statement submitted by complainant after receipt of the notice of outcome will be the final action taken by the court on the complaint.

Rule 2.851 adopted effective January 1, 2018.

Advisory Committee Comment

Subdivision (a). Judicial Council staff have developed a model complaint form and model local complaint procedures, which are available in the Language Access Toolkit at www.courts.ca.gov/33865.htm. The model complaint form is posted in numerous languages.

Courts are encouraged to base their complaint form and procedures on these models. If a complaint alleges action against a court employee that could lead to discipline, the court will process the complaint consistent with the court's applicable Memoranda of Understanding, personnel policies, and/or rules.

Subdivision (d)(1). Court user complaints regarding language access that relate to Judicial Council meetings, forms, or other translated material hosted on www.courts.ca.gov, should be submitted directly to the Judicial Council at www.courts.ca.gov/languageaccess.htm.

Subdivision (d)(2) and (d)(5). For noncomplicated language access-related complaints that can be resolved quickly, a written response to the complainant indicating that the complaint has been resolved will suffice as both acknowledgement of the complaint and notice of outcome.

Subdivision (d)(5). When appropriate, a written response to the complainant indicating that the language access complaint has been resolved will suffice as notice of outcome. Courts should maintain the privacy of individuals named in the complaint.

Subdivision (d)(7). Reporting to the Judicial Council regarding the overall numbers, kinds, and disposition of language access-related complaints will not include the names of individuals or any other information that may compromise an individual's privacy concerns.

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