On-Site Legal Interpretation, Professional Court Interpreters, Legal Translators and State Court Interpreter Programs

Many state courts do not require court interpreter services in all civil cases. Some states mandate that court interpreters be appointed only in small claims, divorce and custody cases. A new study of civil courts by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University law school examined 35 states with the highest immigrant populations. According to its findings, 46% of civil courts do not require court interpreters to be provided in all cases, 80% fail to guarantee that the courts would pay for court interpreters, 37% do not require court interpreters to have proper credentials, and most state courts are not keeping up with the growing demand for foreign language court interpreters.

Many state courts are struggling to find enough qualified court interpreters, while facing rising costs associated with providing court interpreters in civil actions. An example of this can be seen in California, which has a large Spanish-speaking population. Courts there deal with litigants from Mexico who do not speak or understand Spanish, but instead speak indigenous languages native to their communities.

In response to the above, Senator Herb Kohl (D), from Wisconsin, has introduced a bill to provide $15 million a year in seed money to help states develop and improve their court interpreter programs. This bill is supported by many legal associations and is based on the belief that access to justice includes having access to professional court translators and interpreters.

To read our legal interpretation and legal translation blog entry “What Attorneys Should Know about Different Modes of Court Interpreting to Work with Court Interpreters More Effectively”, click here. And to read “Foreign Language Translators/ Interpreters as Expert Witnesses in Federal Courts”, click here.

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