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Interpreter Services

The Interpreter Services Department provides language support locally to the court’s four divisions (Los Angeles, Santa Ana, Riverside, Santa Barbara). Interpreters are appointed only in proceedings instituted by the United States. In all other proceedings, it is up to the parties to contract and compensate interpreters. However, it is the policy of the Judicial Conference that all Federal courts provide reasonable accommodations to persons with communications disabilities in all court proceedings, including sign language interpreters or other appropriate auxiliary aids and services.

Fees

The rate schedule in effect as of February 1, 2010 is as follows:

Certified and Professionally Qualified and California State Certified Interpreters:

  • Full day: $388
  • Half day: $210
  • Overtime: $55 per hour or part thereof

California State Registered Interpreters

  • Full day: $305
  • Half day: $165
  • Overtime: $45 per hour or part thereof

Language Skilled Interpreters

  • Full day: $265
  • Half day: $147
  • Overtime: $35 per hour or part thereof

For fee schedules applicable to interpreters working with Criminal Justice Act (CJA) appointed attorneys, please refer to the Criminal Justice Act section of the Attorneys page of the court’s web site.

Late Cancellation Policies and Fees

The Contract Court Interpreter Services Terms and Conditions document, appended to Volume 5, Chapter 4 of the Guide to Judiciary Policy, states in pertinent part:

7.3 Cancellation Fees
If the contract court interpreter is given notice of cancellation of a court proceeding, at the interpreter’s normal phone or email, at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled proceeding or time of scheduled departure from residence if travel is authorized, not counting weekends or federal holidays, no cancellation fee will be paid. If the contract court interpreter is given notice of the cancellation less than 24 hours before the scheduled proceeding or time of departure from residence if travel is authorized, not counting weekends or federal holidays, the court will compensate the interpreter with a cancellation fee.

The cancellation fee is equal to the applicable rate indicated on the Rate and Information Sheet for either the half-day or one full-day depending on the anticipated duration of the assignment. (.....) If the court proceeding is cancelled after the contract court interpreter is en route or arrives at the court location, or if the judge deems that the contract court interpreter is not able to interpret effectively and therefore cannot be used after the interpreter arrives at the court, travel time fees will be paid as indicated in Section 7.2, Fees to be Paid for Travel Days.

For Attorneys

The Interpreter Services department of the United States District Court, Central District of California provides interpreter and translation service for the court and for other court-related agencies such as the Pretrial Services Office and U.S. Probation Office. For a detailed description of which proceedings qualify for appointed interpreters, please refer to sections (a) and (j) of the Court Interpreters Act.

For cases that do not qualify for appointed interpreters, please refer to the court’s on-line local roster or other sources for names and telephone numbers of interpreters. You may also contact Interpreter Services at 213 894-4370 for additional information.

While the United States Attorney’s Office secures interpreters for prosecution witnesses, defense counsel should contact, contract, and pay for interpreters when their services are needed for attorney/client meetings away from the courtroom. Appointed counsel may refer to Scheduling Out-of-Court Interpreters in the Criminal Justice Act section of the Attorneys page of the court’s web site for guidance as to rates applicable to interpreting and translating service. The court’s Local Roster of Interpreters and other resources are available on the court’s Internet homepage for review by other federal agencies, law firms and the public at large. (See links under “Finding an Interpreter,” below.)

Witness Interpreters

When interpreters are needed for prosecution witnesses, the United States Attorney’s Office secures contract interpreters as needed. When defense witnesses need interpreters, defense counsel should notify the courtroom deputy clerk, who will then place a request with Interpreter Services. For a detailed description of which proceedings qualify for appointed interpreters, please refer to sections (a) and (j) of the Court Interpreters Act. If the language needed by the witness is the same as the defendant’s, it is customary for the proceedings interpreters to also interpret for the defense witness. As with any interpreter requests, Interpreter Services has to be notified of any changes, continuances, or cancellations as soon as possible in order to avoid late-cancellation situations. If a witness interpreter appears but is not used, that interpreter is entitled to payment:

Volume 5, Chapter 4 of the Guide to Judiciary Policy, 7.3 Cancellation Fees: If the contract court interpreter is given notice of the cancellation less than 24 hours before the scheduled proceeding or time of departure from residence if travel is authorized, not counting weekends or federal holidays, the court will compensate the interpreter with a cancellation fee.

Finding an Interpreter

For interpreter assistance during attorney-client meetings, or when appointed interpreters are not indicated, counsel may refer to the links below. Appointed counsel may refer to the Criminal Justice Act section of the Attorneys page of the court’s website for guidance as to rates applicable to interpreting and translating service when such service is not incident to a court proceeding on the same half or full day. Please be aware that in order for interpreters to be admitted into federal detention facilities and courthouse lock-up areas, the interpreters must display the picture identification pass issued by the court. Interpreters are not admitted into the Metropolitan Detention Center or similar facilities without being accompanied by counsel or other legal representatives, or probation/pretrial officers.

Local Roster of Interpreters

(Disclaimer: Please note that the certification levels indicated for each interpreter are self-reported, except in the case of AO certified interpreters. Users should verify an interpreter’s credentials as needed.)

The following abbreviations are used in the court’s Local Roster to indicate various certifications held by the interpreters:

AO certified: the interpreter is certified by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. Certification is currently available for Spanish, Haitian Creole, and Navajo.

ATA certified: the interpreter has passed an examination offered by the American Translators Association in a language pair for which examinations are available.

CA certified: the interpreter is certified by the Judicial Council of the State of California. Certification is currently available for Arabic, Armenian, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.

CA registered: the interpreter has passed the Judicial Council Court Interpreters Program English fluency exam, offered to interpreters of languages where there is currently no certification examination available.

RID certified: the sign language interpreter holds a certificate in one or more levels of proficiency evaluated by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf.

Click here to view the Local Roster of Interpreters.
Click here to view the California Judicial Council’s listing of interpreters.
Click here to view the American Translators Association’s listing of translators.

For Interpreters

Thinking of becoming an interpreter? The first requirement is near-native fluency in English and one other language. To find out more about the interpreting profession, visit the California Judicial Council’s website at www.courtinfo.ca.gov/programs for a comprehensive introduction to court interpreting in California.

For purposes of the United States District Court, the Court Interpreters Act of 1978 (PL 95-539) requires the Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts to prescribe, determine, and certify the qualifications of persons who serve as interpreters in federal courts, when the Director considers such certification to be merited. Certification testing programs have been developed and administered for Spanish, Navajo, and Haitian Creole.

Spanish is the language in highest demand in the federal courts, with Mandarin, Vietnamese, Korean, Cantonese, Armenian, Russian, and Farsi as runners-up at this court. In all, around 50 different languages are provided by the Central District of California each year. There are currently five Spanish staff interpreter positions (no vacancies), and the court’s local roster contains the names of over 300 interpreters of 80 languages.

Guidelines for Qualifying Court Interpreters

AO Certified Interpreters
An interpreter who has successfully completed the Federal Court Interpreter Certification Examination (FCICE) for a language in which an examination is available. Certification testing programs have been developed and administered for Spanish, Navajo, and Haitian Creole.

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
  • language-skilled/ad hoc interpreters

Professionally Qualified Interpreters
The category of professionally qualified interpreters applies only to languages other than Spanish, Navajo, and Haitian Creole. Credentials for professionally qualified interpreters require sufficient documentation and authentication, and must meet the criteria in one of the following:

The language pair of the membership qualification must be English and the target language.

  1. Passed the State Department conference or seminar interpreter test in a language pair that includes English and the target language. The State Department’s escort interpreter test is not accepted as qualifying.
  2. Passed the interpreter test of the United Nations in a language pair that includes English and the target language.
  3. Is a current member in good standing of:
    1. The Association Internationale des Interprètes de Conférence (AIIC); or
    2. The American Association of Language Specialists (TAALS). The language pair of the membership qualification must be English and the target language.
  4. For sign language interpreters, someone who holds the Specialist Certificate:
    Legal (SC:L) of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID).

Language Skilled/ad-hoc Interpreters
An interpreter who does not qualify as a professionally qualified interpreter, but who can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the court the ability to interpret court proceedings from English to a designated language and from that language into English, will be classified as a language skilled/ad-hoc interpreter, and may be placed on the court’s local roster and included on the Director’s master list as a “language skilled/ad-hoc interpreter.”

The Federal Court Interpreter Certification Examination (FCICE)

A certified interpreter has successfully passed the Federal Court Interpreter Certification Examination (FCICE). Certification testing programs have been developed and administered for Spanish, Navajo, and Haitian Creole. The FCICE is a criterion-referenced performance examination (28 U.S.C. §1827(b)(1)) developed and administered under the supervision of the AO District Court Administration Division.

Information on the certification program is available from the Court Interpreter Program page on the judiciary’s public website.

Professional Organizations for Interpreters and Translators

American Translators Association: www.atanet.org
National Association of Judiciary Interpreters & Translators: www.najit.org
Southern California Translators & Interpreters Association: www.scatia.org
National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf: www.rid.org
California Court Interpreters Association: www.ccia.org

Orientation Materials for Interpreters

Forms for Interpreters

This section contains forms for interpreters on the court’s local roster. Many of the forms can be filled in on-line and printed for use by the interpreter. All forms submitted for payment must contain original signatures.