(FROM THE PRINT EDITION)
Diversity training on court's agenda Tuesday
By Franco Ordoñez
Posted: Wednesday, Aug. 03, 2011
Mecklenburg County court officials, including Chief District Judge Lisa Bell and members of the District Attorney's office, took part in diversity training Tuesday led by the Mexican Consulate of Raleigh.
Consul General Carlos Flores Vizcarra spoke to some 50 judges, lawyers, interpreters and clerks about issues affecting the local Mexican community.
He highlighted the rapid growth of the Latino population in the Carolinas. North Carolina had the second-fastest growing Latino population between 1990 and 2008, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia. South Carolina had the eighth-fastest growth rate.
Flores Vizcarra lobbied for greater acceptance of the "matricula consular" - IDs that are issued to Mexicans living in the U.S. by the Mexican consulate. He also sought to clarify confusion over Latino names and surnames.
"My plea is that we go about understanding the presence of Mexicans in a more civilized manner," Vizcarra said. "Not to buy into the prejudices and stereotypes some people have. I can tell you most Mexican immigrants are hard-working people."
The group also sampled authentic Mexican dishes such as tamales and tacos provided by a local restaurant, Fonda las Cazuelas.
Language issues are only one challenge for the courts, Bell said. There are cultural differences. And Latinos, including illegal immigrants, are often more vulnerable to crimes, she said. The courts also must face the impacts on children when parents are deported.
"The population we're dealing with now is not the same as it was 20 years ago, or 10 years ago, or even two years ago," she said. "So as a court system we need to learn how to adjust to meet the needs of a changing population."
The event was part of a series of discussions organized by the Trial Court Administrator's office via a $3,000 grant from Charlotte-based Justice Initiatives.
Titled Strengthening Community Relationships, the goal is to build social capital by bridging gaps between diverse communities and the court system.
Said Trial Court Administrator Todd Nuccio: "We're trying to build public trust and confidence."
Franco Ordoñez: 704-358-6180. Follow him on Twitter @FrancoOrdonez.
Read more: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/08/03/2499911/diversity-training-on-courts-agenda.html#ixzz1Tyf7Ejm5