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Ruiz, Gopal Domestic Violence Notice Bill Clears Senate

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TRENTON – The Senate passed legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz and Senator Vin Gopal to ensure that victims of domestic violence and defendants in state court have access to necessary information in their native languages. Specifically, the bill would require domestic violence restraining orders and notices to domestic violence victims to be issued in additional high demand languages other than English.


“New Jersey is one of the most diverse states in the country and our court system needs to reflect our communities and provide information and resources,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “Especially during times of crisis, non-English speakers must be able to understand their rights, have access to relevant legal information in their native language, and fully comprehend what is being communicated throughout the process.”


The bill, S-1000, acknowledges that many New Jersey residents with limited English proficiency may not fully understand the notices and orders they receive. According to data from the U.S. Census American Community Survey, about 12 percent of New Jersey residents, over 1 million people, report that they speak English “less than very well”.


Though many of these notices are additionally issued in Spanish, there are many citizens of New Jersey who are not proficient in either English or Spanish. Other commonly-spoken languages include Filipino, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Portuguese, and Arabic, among others.


“It must be recognized that government exists to serve its citizens, regardless of their national origin or spoken language,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth). “Equal access to our legal system and the courts is a constitutional right, and taking meaningful steps towards providing language access has been affirmed by both state and federal courts to be a part of that right.”


The bill was passed in a 34-0 vote.