Language Access Services

The Role of the Court Interpreter

Professional court interpreters are individuals who possess an educated, native-like mastery of both English and a second language. They have general knowledge in a wide range of fields and perform the three main types of court interpreting: sight translation, consecutive interpreting, and simultaneous interpreting.

A Court Interpreter’s sole responsibility is to bridge the communication barriers so as to provide limited English proficient court users with equal access to justice.

While performing his or her duties, the court interpreter:

  • Will need to hear you speak in your native language, and may ask you questions such as where you are from or if you have ever used an interpreter before.
  • Will assist you in communicating with persons in the courtroom, including your lawyer, court staff and the judge.
  • Will interpret everything you say into English.
  • Will interpret everything said in court into your native language.
  • Will interpret everything that is said, without adding, omitting, or changing anything.
  • Is bound by the rules of confidentiality and will not repeat to anyone what you say privately to your lawyer.
  • Cannot give you legal advice.
  • Cannot talk to you about your case.
  • Cannot explain what certain words or terms mean.
  • Cannot answer questions about what will happen in court.
  • Cannot have private conversations with you, your family or friends.

To search for a court interpreter

The Judicial Council Staff maintains a statewide roster of certified and registered interpreters authorized to work in California courts.

Additional informational:

Language Access Toolkit http://www.courts.ca.gov/33865.htm

Court Interpreter Brochure
Access for the Hearing Impaired

The Court may provide an interpreter where a hearing impaired party or witness is present and participating in court proceedings. In addition, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the court will provide to hearing-impaired persons a reasonable accommodation that will enable such persons to engage in effective communications in court proceedings. In providing such accommodation, the court shall give primary consideration to the specific accommodation requested by such persons (e.g., a request for a sign language interpreter rather than a mechanical device). The Court provides sign language interpreters, real time reporting, CART reporting and assistive listening devices for the hearing impaired for jury duty and for all other proceedings, regardless of the type of court case.