Courtroom Interpreter Resources for Attorneys

Here you'll find information to help you ensure that your client's civil rights under Title VI are fulfilled. For attorneys who might be unfamiliar with judicial transcription and translation guidelines, and for terms relating to interpretation, see our Interpretation FAQ pages.

Questions to ask your client:

Assess your client's English proficiency:
1. Assess a client"s English fluency/lack of proficiency (be objective).
2. Does your client speak English well enough to:
• Tell a story and answer questions?
• Listen to communications in English and understand them?
• Be understood by the court?
• Understand everyone in the court (considering regional accents, speed, etc)?
3. Prepare your client by educating them so that they understand court and interpretation procedures.

Aids to help you further determine your client's needs:
California Department of Social Services -(2002). I Speak Cards.
These cards can be used by LEP persons to get interpreter services. The pocket size card provides a statement that identifies the language spoken by the LEP person. Languages include: Spanish, Laotian, Russian, Cambodian, Chinese, Farsi, Korean, Vietnamese, Hmong, Arabic, Armenian, and Tagalog.

Economic and Statistics Bureau U.S. Census. (2004). Language Identification Flashcards: I Speak Cards. U.S. Department of Commerce.
Flashcards to identify following languages: Arabic, Armenian, Bengali, Cambodian, Chamorro, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Croatian, Czech, Dutch, English, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Haitian Creole, Hindi, Hmong, Hungarian, Ilocano, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, Tongan, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese, and Yiddish.

Minnesota Department of Human Services. I Need an Interpreter Card.
These cards say in both English and another language "I need a ________ interpreter." The cards are available in: Arabic, Hmong, Khmer (Cambodian), Laotian, Oromo, Russian, Serbo-Croatian (Bosnian), Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese. LEP persons may present the cards when they contact a state, county, or community agency to assist with conveying their need for a language interpreter.

State of Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services, Summit County Sheriff"s Office, National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators, and the American
Translators Association. Language Identification Guide
This language identification guide is a tool for law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies to identify the language of individuals they encounter who do not speak English.

Links to more resources:
1. American Bar Association:
List of state statutes on the provision of language interpreters in civil cases.

2. American Bar Association"s Commission on Domestic Violence:
Materials on integrating interpretation in civil representation of domestic and sexual violence victims.

3. Department of Justice, Office of Civil Rights, Executive Order 13166 Limited English Proficiency Resource Document:
Tips and Tools from the Field: Overview and tips and tools for law enforcement, domestic violence specialists and service providers, 911 call centers, courts, federally conducted programs and activities.

4. Department of Justice, Office of Coordination & Review:
File complaints for Title VI violations.

5. Legal Services Corporation:
Guidance to LSC programs on training, procedures and policies.

6. National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT):
Professional certification, training, policy advocacy, how to work with interpreters.

7. National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy:
Policy, research, technical assistance, training and an electronic resource center on immigrant integration issues with a special focus on state and local policies and data.

8. National Consortium of State Courts:
Materials on court interpretation including tests for certifying interpreters and model guide.

9. Ohio State, Dept of Public Safety/Office of Criminal Justice Services:
Training materials for law enforcement and judges.