I am writing this for my husband, who does not speak English. His ex-wife took him to court because she stopped working and wants more child support. He filed a counterclaim because she never lets his daughter come spend time with us and never returns his phone calls.
There was a pretrial conference scheduled in December but his ex-wife’s lawyer needed a continuance that day. He went to court but she faxed in a motion to continue and the hearing was moved to next week.
We thought because the courts are only hearing emergencies that his hearing would be moved to when the court opens for normal business. He just got an email from the court saying his hearing is going to be by phone and he needs to submit his financial statement and memorandum electronically to the clerk three days before the hearing.
We do not have a printer or a scanner so even if I write these things for him I don’t know how we can get them to the court. Also, because he does not speak English, he always has an interpreter in court. How can they make him do a phone conference? He is afraid to do this by phone because it will be too confusing. Can I speak for him? If not, how can I help him?
It is up to the judges as to whether they continue cases or hold pretrial conferences by phone right now. Many judges are continuing pretrial conferences but, I am guessing because this case already was continued for five months, the judge felt it should not be further delayed. I am also guessing that the judge, in scheduling the hearing, did not remember there was a need for an interpreter. You are correct — the logistics of having an interpreter participate in a telephone pretrial conference make an already challenging situation far worse.
You will not be allowed to speak for your husband unless you are a lawyer, which I assume you are not. The best way to help him is to type an email for him back to the clerk who sent him the hearing notice. Inform her that he does not speak English and requires an interpreter. Ask if the judge is hearing cases requiring interpreters by phone. If she says no, she should also continue the hearing without the need for you to do anything else.
However, if the judge is still hearing pretrial conferences telephonically using interpreters, you still have the problem of not being able to get his financial statement done and uploaded properly. In that event, you should write a motion to continue, explaining why he cannot comply with the order and ask for a new date in person with an interpreter present. You are allowed to e-sign pleadings now so you don’t actually have to print out and have him sign the motion, he can insert his electronic signature and email it to the clerk who sent him the notice.