Participatory Legal Defense of a Montagnard Jarai Family (2013-2014)


Team: Andrew J. Young, Jon Siu, H Wier Siu, Nsonwu, M., Busch, M., et al

Title:  Participatory Legal Defense of a Montagnard Jarai Family (2013-2014)

Brief: Community and academic joint effort to ensure the rights of a family detained, separated and charged with numerous misdemeanor and criminal charges and facing severe consequences including long prison terms and deportation. Our team provided expertise about Montagnard cultural practices and created and conducted a court-approved curriculum to educate parents in US marriage law, customs and traditions. Our complaints about the failure of courts to provide competent interpreters led to an investigation of local court practice by the State’s Administration of Courts.

In collaboration with Montagnard refugee community members,  we documented interpretation problems and reported them to the US DOJ and NC AOC . This resulted in a visit from officials and a 12-page action report by the AOC Office of Language Access Services (OLAS) to Guilford County courts  which included insistence that top county court officials ensure that standard policies and practices were followed. Slide show link

During this project we also found other system gaps and failures, such as the lack of culturally appropriate civics and household training for refugees, so we created a court-approved and supervised curriculum. (link).

We found that within the Montagnard community, recently reunified families often had little past experience compared to previous waves of arrivals that could better prepare them for life in Greensboro, North Carolina (link).

Community investment and desired outcomes: