If her bill becomes law, a pilot program will provide interpreters to jurors in five northeastern Illinois counties, including Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and Will Counties. Illinois would become the first state to offer language assistance to jurors without a state constitutional provision prohibiting discrimination against prospective jurors on the basis of language.
Under Martinez’s plan, a juror identified as needing language assistance would be provided with a court-appointed, taxpayer-funded interpreter throughout all stages of the trial, including deliberation. The interpreter would be required to interpret all testimony faithfully and not to interject his or her personal opinion.
“In many communities in this diverse state, language assistance is necessary in order to guarantee each defendant a trial by a jury of his or her peers,” Martinez said. “Illinois should be ahead of the curve in making its court system fair and accessible to all residents.”
The Illinois House of Representatives will now consider the bill.