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Local News in Brief : English-on-Job Rule Goes to High Court

Despite an out-of-court settlement, two Huntington Park judges have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to vacate an appeals court decision that deemed discriminatory a 1984 rule requiring Southeast Municipal Court employees to speak English during office conversations.

In addition, Southeast Municipal Court Judges Porter deDubovay and Russell L. Schooling have asked the high court to review the case if it does not vacate the appellate court ruling.

Alva Gutierrez, 33, a former court clerk who is bilingual, sued in 1985 challenging the “English-only " rule as discriminatory. Later that year, a federal judge issued an injunction blocking its enforcement. The judges appealed, but a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision last year. The appeals court decision also kept alive a suit seeking damages against the judges.

The county, which had been paying the judges’ legal fees, reached a settlement last month with Gutierrez. She received $85,000, and U.S. District Court Judge Richard A. Gadbois Jr. dismissed the case.

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The petition contends that the Supreme Court should vacate the appeals court decision for procedural reasons, or hear the case. The judges contend the rule was not discriminatory because Gutierrez and the court’s other bilingual clerks could just as easily have spoken English.


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