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Whether it’s a six-hour “Spanish for judges” crash course in Georgia, a 13-week “Spanish for lawyers” class in Texas or an eight-month program in Kentucky that ends with a trip to Mexico, more court employees across the nation are learning to hablar Espa�ol. In most cases, court systems team up with local colleges and offer classes at no cost to employees, often held in the courthouses. The programs are not meant to replace the work of court interpreters but to help serve the nation’s growing Spanish-speaking population, which has skyrocketed from from 14.6 million in 1980 to 35 million currently, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That total is expect to exceed 102 million by 2050. Khalid Kahloon, assistant attorney in the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney in Louisville, Ky., said he hopes that the eight-month course he started in January will help him carry a conversation with a growing number of defendants, victims and witnesses. “For example, I’m trying a capital case tomorrow and all my witnesses are Hispanic and we really had a difficult time,” he said. “I want to be able to call someone and say ‘OK, we got a court date,’ or ‘You need to be in court,’ or ‘you don’t,’ ” said Kahloon. He is one of 17 attorneys and five judges enrolled in the class that is believed to be the most extensive language course for court employees in the nation. Some of the participants were chosen by lottery because of high demand. The $60,000 program, which is being funded by the court system and a private foundation, was modeled after a similar course taken by local police officers, said Jefferson County District Judge Angela McCormick Bisig in Louisville, who organized the course and took it with police officers. Bisig said she now uses Spanish every day, whether to inform defendants of their charges or their court dates. Her ability to speak Spanish has also allowed her to schedule proceedings that would otherwise depend on court interpreters’ busy schedules, she said. The course will end with a two-week immersion trip to Morelia, Mexico, which Bisig said will help solidify Spanish skills and build cultural understanding. Participants will learn about differences between the two countries’ legal systems, such as that most of Mexico’s proceedings take place through written memos and that defendants are often jailed for the most minor offenses until proven innocent, she said. 24 hours in Indiana In Indiana, the first Spanish class for court employees was offered in August, said Michelle Goodman, a staff attorney for the Indiana Judicial Center. The state is picking up the approximately $250 it costs to provide 24 hours of instruction for each employee, she said. About 500 court workers have either completed the optional course or are currently taking it, Goodman said. In Georgia, a one-day, six-hour Spanish class for clerks started five years ago and the program was expanded two years ago to include a class for judges, said Rich Reaves, executive director of the Institute of Continuing Judicial Education of Georgia in Athens, Ga.

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