Q&A: Spanish Vietnamese Versions of Court Websites


For courts who have translated their public website into the Spanish and/or Vietnamese languages:

Do you have a Spanish and/or Vietnamese version of your court public website?

Do you have statistics on number of visitors by language that you can share?

Have you conducted a cost/benefit analysis or impact report?


There are several multi-lingual court websites on the Top 10 list of winners, but the most recent are:

District of Columbia Ccourts http://www.dccourts.gov/dccourts/index.jsp
They do have a Vietnamese translation
NY Courts http://www.courts.state.ny.us/
They do not have a Vietnamese choice
Rhode Island Courts http://www.courts.state.ri.us/
They do not have a Vietnamese choice
Check out the whole list, including 10 years of archived winners at:


Also, one note of caution … merely plugging in Bablefish.com or some other online translation service is not sufficient for most courts as legal terms do not always translate well.
To get empirical information on this issue would be great. Too often we assume that those whom we are trying to reach are literate in their native language, which is not always the case (for example, the third wave of Vietnamese immigrants to the San Diego area, who came from rural areas/refugee camps and from an entirely oral culture). And similarly,
in areas with longstanding immigrant communities (e.g., San Joaquin,
CA), it is also not uncommon for there to be a high level of bilingualism, making the need for translated materials less critical as a matter of choice by those folks (we printed lots of Spanish-language survey forms, but few people used them, taking the English one instead).

The CA AOC Self Help Web site is available in both English and Spanish,
it would be interesting to know what the data say about frequency of use.
I am writing an article on my experience translating portions of the Indiana Code. The point I am making is that since the Spanish version (or any other language for that matter) of certain legal document does not have legal force like in Canada, for example, the purpose of the translated version can be different from the source document. This is called skopos theory – an oldie in translation studies but still applicable. The translation can be made in a way that serves a specific purpose, for example informing the public. […….] makes a good point: knowing the target reader helps deterring the register of the translated version should have.

As for forms and other types of document, I think user often pick the English original because they understand English more than they speak. Quality of the translation may be another factor.
We are in the process of translating our entire Virtual Self Help Law Center website into Spanish. We have good analytics on the site, and so will be able to provide this community with some information on website traffic, as well as the anecdotal information from clerks, self help attorneys, and judges about whether they are noticing any impacts at the window, in the self help center, and in the courtroom. Most likely,
these statistics should become meaningful by fall.

The website (in English) is at: www.cc-courthelp.org

The Superior Court of California, Santa Clara has also translated their self-help website into Spanish and Vietnamese.

The California Courts self-help website www.sucorte.ca.gov makes a special effort to use the Spanish that we hear used in the courtrooms. It is translated by certified translators and reviewed by a fully bilingual – native Spanish-speaking California attorney with a wonderful background in providing a variety of self-help services.
Connecticut has a growing number of its Web pages in Spanish. The top visits for our most recent available month (November 2008) are:

Spanish Pages:

Spanish home page http://www.jud.ct.gov/espanol.htm – 1,100 visits for the month, #110 in top 200 pages
Spanish Traffic FAQs http://www.jud.ct.gov/faq/sp/ – 596 visits for the month, #186 in top 200 pages
Spanish Publication Downloads:

http://www.jud.ct.gov/Publications/Spanish/es211S.pdf – 624 downloads, #65 of top 200 downloads (A Child Needs Emotional and Financial Support of Both Parents)

http://www.jud.ct.gov/Publications/Spanish/HM015S.pdf – 311 downloads, #123 of top 200 downloads (A Tenant’s Guide to Summary Process (Eviction))

http://www.jud.ct.gov/Publications/Spanish/HM031s.pdf – 309 downloads, #125 of top 200 downloads (Rights and Responsibilities of Landlords and Tenants in Connecticut)

http://www.jud.ct.gov/external/kids/ColoringBook/JDP_ES_189S.pdf – 230 downloads, #169 of top 200 downloads (Coloring Book)

*In deference to requests from some readers I have deleted all references to personal names in the above responses. I have however preserved references to geographical areas and to speciific web sites to add relevance to the responses.

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