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Interpreter Skills

Court interpreters must have the following knowledge, skills, and abilities: 

  • Highly proficient in both English and the other language.
  • Impartiality.
  • Able to accurately and idiomatically turn the message from the source language into the target language without any additions, omissions or other misleading factors that alter the intended meaning of the message from the speaker.
  • Adept at simultaneous interpretation, which is the most frequent form of interpretation used in the courtroom, and in consecutive interpretation and sight translation.
  • Able to communicate orally including appropriate delivery and poise.
  • Demonstrates high professional standards for courtroom demeanor and professional conduct.

The single greatest operational requirement in the federal courts is for Spanish-language interpreters. However, there is also a need for interpreters in other languages, including Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese, and Foochow), Portuguese, Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, and Arabic.

The need for specific language interpreters is determined by the local district courts and not by the Administrative Office. However, in accordance with the Court Interpreters Act, the Administrative Office establishes the standards and guidelines for selecting and using interpreters in federal court proceedings.