A certified interpreter is an individual who has passed the Court Interpreter Certification Examination or the required examination for American Sign Language and fulfills the Judicial Council requirements. The certified interpreter must pass a written and oral exam in English and the other language for which they are being certified.
Interpreters of spoken languages for which there is no state certifying examination are required to pass the English Fluency Examination and fulfill the corresponding Judicial Council requirements in order to become registered interpreters of a non-designated certified language.
Interpreters have an important job in the courtroom. They interpret court proceedings for witnesses and defendants with limited English skills or for parties who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Interpretation is the process by which oral communication is rendered from one language to another. The original is either spoken or signed language, and the rendition is delivered in another spoken language or in a signed language.
Translation is the process by which written text is rendered from one language into another. The original is in written form, and the translation into the other language is also produced in written form. In both interpretation and translation, the goal is for the tone, style, and content of the original to be maintained in the rendition into the other language.
Sight translation is a hybrid form in which the content of a written text in one language is rendered orally (on sight) into another language.
NOTE: Interpretation and translation, while both language-related, are not identical disciplines. Credentialing is different for each, with both requiring a specific knowledge, training and practice.
There is a total of thirteen (13) languages currently certified by the State: American Sign Language, Arabic, Eastern Armenian, Western Armenian, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.
Interpreters may be appointed only for Criminal, Juvenile, Mental Health with appointed counsel and Department of Child Support cases. For interpreter services for all other proceedings, the parties are responsible for providing and paying for these services.
In all judicial proceedings instituted by the Superior Court for which the codes mandate the appointment of an interpreter (such as Criminal and Juvenile delinquency), the cost of the court-appointed interpreter will be paid by the Superior Court from appropriations available to the judiciary.
When an interpreter has been scheduled for a specific mandated matter at the request of counsel, and said counsel either appears late or does not appear at all, or is not ready to proceed and has failed to cancel the services of the interpreter, then the resulting interpreter fees shall be paid by the attorney.
Parties that need interpreters in Civil, Small Claims, Probate, Juvenile Dependency, and general Family Law (not covered under a mandated area) are responsible for acquiring and paying for these services.
When the District Attorney, Public Defender or defense counsel need the services of an interpreter away from the courthouse, they should make arrangements to contact, contract, and pay the interpreter. Please refer to Attorney Information Section and select 'Find an Interpreter for Non- Mandated Calendared Hearings.'