What is Court Interpretation?

History of Court Interpretation

In the United States, access to court interpretation services for limited English-proficient and/or non-English speakers is essential in protecting the right to due process as provided by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.

While historically access to these services has been limited, there have been cases in the US courts where interpreters have been appointed to provide services during court proceedings since the 1800s.

Even after the infamous case of the Nuremberg trials, where simultaneous interpretation was prominently featured as the only way that the trial could have proceeded with appropriate expediency, recognition of the need for interpretation in US courts on a federal and state level was still lacking.

On June 25, 1969, a non-English speaking defendant, by the name of Rogelio Nieves Negron, filed a pro se application for a writ of habeas corpus in the Eastern District of New York.

Judge Bartels in a thorough opinion, Negron v. State of New York, 310 F.Supp. 1304 (E.D.N.Y.1970), granted Negron his release.

On October 29, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed The Court Interpreters Act, thereby establishing the right of any individual involved in federal proceedings to have a certified court interpreter if his/her communication or comprehension capabilities are inhibited because of a language barrier.

After more than a 100 years without adequately addressing this crucial issue, courts in the US began establishing rules for the use of court interpreters during proceedings.

Until this point, people who participated in court proceedings in our country, and who were unable to understand or communicate effectively in the English language, were largely left to fend for themselves. In the best of circumstances, they were offered the services of an interpreter who was appointed by the court, but even this was rare.

Court Interpreters & Certification

Unfortunately, interpreters were being hired based on the fact that they asserted they were bilingual and could interpret the proceedings, yet there were no standards for training or certifying these interpreters.

As a result, credentialing was considered crucial to the appointment of qualified interpreters for the courts. The Federal government started certifying interpreters as a result of the Court Interpreters Act, 28 U.S.C. §1827.

Shortly thereafter State Courts began utilizing the Federal model to certify interpreters for the State Courts. These states got together and created a consortium to share information and testing resources in order to advance certification in their respective States.

As of now the Consortium for Language Access in the Courts has 40 member States and is the repository for oral and written exams for court interpreters for the member states.

Current Challenges

Court interpretation has been named one of the 5 most important issues facing the Courts today, especially due to the growth  and diversification of the US population in the last two decades.

Court Systems are faced with an ever increasing demand for certified and qualified court interpreters in every jurisdiction, not only the metropolitan areas of highly culturally diverse states but in small towns and jurisdictions in every State.

As demand increases and resources are limited, Court Systems in every State are looking for technological solutions to satisfy the demands for qualified and certified interpreters in every courtroom where they are needed.

It is to address these very challenges that Remote Interpreting™, Inc. was founded. Through extensive research, design, and testing, the T3 Multi-Room Unit was developed to provide a cost-effective solution.

With the T3, court proceedings can now be conducted remotely without an in-person interpreter. The T3's sophisticated design allows for the most challenging mode of interpretation (simultaneous), thereby protecting the defendant's right to due process while avoiding the inefficiencies, errors, and intrusive, low-quality nature endemic to interpretation by speakerphone.