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New Manual Shows Importance of Interpreters in Federal Court System

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A newly published Federal Court Interpreter Orientation Manual and Glossary (pdf) provides an overview of the federal court interpreting program. A useful tool for new and experienced court interpreters, it provides an introduction to the federal court system, interpreting best practices, and reference materials. It also demonstrates the importance of court interpreters in the administration of justice and serves as a court interpreting reference for Clerk’s Office staff.

In fiscal year 2013, district courts used interpreters in 330,607 court events, compared to 325,257 events reported in FY 2012. Overall, 117 different languages were used in court events during 2013. Spanish remains the most-used language for interpreters in the courts, accounting for 96.7 percent of all reported events last year.

Other frequently used languages, in order by number of events, were: Mandarin (1,390); Russian (1,128); Korean (807); Cantonese (586); Vietnamese (566); Arabic (554); Portuguese (427); Haitian Creole (405); Romanian (345); Foochow (314).

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. There are three categories of interpreters in federal courts: certified, professionally qualified, and language-skilled interpreters. All staff court interpreters must be federally certified court interpreters.