The use of competent federal court interpreters in proceedings involving speakers of languages other than English is critical to ensure that justice is carried out fairly for defendants and other stakeholders. The Court Interpreters Act, 28 U.S.C. §1827 provides that the Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts shall prescribe, determine, and certify the qualifications of persons who may serve as certified interpreters, when the Director considers certification of interpreters to be merited, for the hearing impaired (whether or not also speech impaired) and persons who speak only or primarily a language other than the English language, in judicial proceedings instituted by the United States.
AO Certified Interpreters:
An interpreter who has successfully completed the Federal Court Interpreter examination for a language in which an examination is currently available. At this time examinations are available for the Spanish, Navajo, and Haitian Creole languages.
Otherwise Qualified Interpreters:
When a certified interpreter is not reasonably available, the court may use an "otherwise qualified interpreter" (28 U.S.C. §1827(b(2)). Otherwise qualified interpreters consist of the following two categories:
Professionally Qualified Interpreters:
To be included on the Director's master list of interpreters who are "professionally qualified", an interpreter must demonstrate to the local court:
Language Skilled Interpreters:
Interpreters who do not qualify as "professionally qualified" interpreters or certified interpreters, but who can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the court their ability to interpret court proceedings from English to a designated language and from that language to English, will be placed on the court's local list and will be included on the Director's master list as a "language skilled interpreter."