LANGUAGE ACCESS AT NCSC
The Language Access Services Section (LASS) provides state courts with resources to overcome language barriers in the courts and to ensure that providing individuals with limited English proficiency with access to the courts is a core function of the courts.
Issue: State Justice Institute (SJI)
The State Justice Institute is the only source of federal funding for state courts that addresses all case types and issues.
State court leaders support maintaining the FY 2010 funding for SJI. (CCJ Board of Directors Resolution, 2/18/11 and COSCA Resolution 11-A-1)
The State Justice Institute (SJI) was established by Federal law in 1984 to award grants to improve the quality of justice in State courts, facilitate better coordination between State and Federal courts, and foster innovative, efficient solutions to common issues faced by all courts. The 11-member Board is comprised of 3 chief justices, 3 appellate or trial court judges, 1 state court administrator, and 4 public members. The Board is chaired by a Chief Justice. SJI Board members are appointed by the President. The Conference of Chief Justices submits nominations to the President for the judicial and state court administrator positions.
The history of SJI funding has been as follows:
Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) introduced both S. Res. 116 and the Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011 (S. 679) on 3/20/11. S. Res. 116 provided for expedited Senate consideration of certain nominations subject to advice and consent. The SJI Board of Directors is one of the thirty entities listed in the resolution. Nominations for these thirty entities would be immediately placed on the Senate Calendar and only referred to the appropriate committee of jurisdiction for review if specifically requested by a Senator. Among other things, S 679 established a working group designed to reduce duplicative paperwork requirements for nominees and to set up an electronic “smart form” for transmitting information. On 6/29/11, the Senate approved S. 679 by a vote of 79-20. The House concurred with both measures.
The President’s FY 2015 budget request for SJI is $5.121M. On 5/30/14, the House approved its FY 2015 Commerce-Justice-Science bill (HR 4660) and included $5.121M for SJI. On 6/5/14, the Senate Appropriations Committee recommended their FY 2015 appropriations bill (S. 2437) for approval, which also included $5.121M for SJI. The FY 2015 omnibus appropriations bill (P.L. 113-235) included $5.121M for SJI.
For the FY 2016 funding cycle, the President requested $5.121M for SJI. Both the House and Senate Appropriations Committee have recommended $5.121M for SJI.
With the approval of the omnibus appropriations act (PL 114-113), SJI received $5.121M for FY 2016. Preliminarily, SJI has received $5.121M in the current FY17 funding cycle. This is the same amount SJI received last year.
After a year-end CR extended FY 2016 spending levels until April, the 115th Congress will impose its will on the FY 2017 appropriations and as well as for FY 2018.