WHO: Occupy Fights Foreclosures, L.E.P. Homeowners, Department of Justice, Judicial Council, Los Angeles Superior Court, Chief Justice of California
WHAT: Occupy Fights Foreclosures demands the California Superior Courts stop violating immigrant’s civil rights (LEP Homeowners), issues letter of complaint to the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, Judicial Council, Chief Justice of California, House of Senate Judiciary Committee
LOS ANGELES- February 28th, 2013- Occupy Fights Foreclosures (OFF), has been working hard to defend the rights of homeowners defrauded by banks. Many of the foreclosure victims we are helping have Limited English Proficiency (LEP), and they are being denied the services of court interpreters in their court hearings. When these homeowners go to court to fight fraudulent foreclosures and evictions by the banks, they are not able to understand the proceedings, let alone defend themselves, and the banks are taking full advantage of this.
The Justice Department has already reached a settlement of $335 million with Countrywide in 2011 for discrimination against minority borrowers. Yet, state courts continue to discriminate against immigrants by denying them court interpreters. The Supreme Court has ruled that failing to take reasonable steps to ensure meaningful access for LEP persons is a form of national origin discrimination prohibited by Title VI regulations. According to Title VI regulations, state courts are violating the civil rights of thousands of LEP persons on a daily basis. For LEP homeowners, this violation of their rights may cost them their homes.
The Superior Court of Los Angeles states on its Web site that its mission is to “Equally serve all people and consistently work to identify and remove barriers to access.” Occupy Fights Foreclosures demands the courts to put this into practice. We are sending a letter to Assistant Attorney General Thomas Pérez, requesting that the Department of Justice move immediately to require the California Superior Courts to comply with federal law and provide “universal, free and qualified” court interpreting, as the Department of Justice already instructed them to do on August 16, 2010. OFF is sending a copy of our letter to the California Judicial Council and the presiding judges of Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange and Riverside Counties.
According to homeowner defense attorney Lenore Albert, the bank’s attorneys are routinely posing as Legal Aid representatives who are there to help the homeowner. They tell the homeowner to sign stipulations to judgment, and that after they sign the paperwork, the judge will hear their case. However, after they sign the stipulation, their case is done and they never have an opportunity to say anything to the judge. Ms. Albert observes, “The failure to provide qualified interpreters leads to this prevalent practice."
"LEP Homeowners who have lost their homes and their present cases being violated are in the thousands. The violations are occurring at every level of the judicial foreclosure process, including Unlawful Detainer, Bankruptcy, Civil and Federal Courts", said Carlos Marroquin, homeowner advocate with the Occupy Fights Foreclosure Home Defense movement.