Frequently Asked Questions 

What is a Court Interpreter?

A court interpreter for a LEP (Limited English Proficiency) person is someone who serves as a vehicle through which information flows after being transferred from one spoken language to another spoken language.

A court interpreter for a deaf or hard of hearing individual, is someone who serves as a vehicle through which information flows after being transferred from a spoken language into a sign language, or from a sign language into a spoken language.

Being bilingual is not enough to be an interpreter. Court interpreting is a specific skill. A court interpreter must always know the appropriate modes of interpreting in a particular proceeding.

What is the role of a Court Interpreter?

A court interpreter is to completely and accurately interpret or translate what is stated or written. The interpreter is never to alter, summarize, omit, or add anything while interpreting or translating. The interpreter is never to explain the meaning of what is stated or written, nor is the interpreter to provide legal advice or become an advocate for the court or any party.

What are the modes of interpreting in a court proceeding?

Sight Translation – the oral interpretation of a written document from a source language into a target language.

Consecutive Interpretation – is used when a LEP person is participant for the record

Simultaneous Interpretation – is used most of the time; the interpreter speaks at the same time as the source language speaker

When should a Court Interpreter be appointed?

An interpreter is appointed or requested as soon as the need is known or verified as specified by statute.

Who pays for Court Interpreters?

Pursuant to KRS 30A.415 (1, 2) the KCOJ is only required to pay for interpreting services that are needed during a court proceeding or for direct services. The KCOJ does not pay for interpreting services for attorneys, public defenders, law enforcement officers, jail officials, social workers from the Cabinet for Families and Children, other state agency employees, or other social or mental health workers. The KCOJ only pays for interpreting services done for the KCOJ or departments within the AOC.

What should be done when an individual does not understand the court interpreter?

If an individual does not understand the assigned court interpreter, another court interpreter will have to be assigned to the case. The person has the legal right to request another interpreter when he/she cannot understand the interpreter.

How do I make a complaint about a court interpreter?

If you have a complaint about a court interpreter's services, you will need to do so in writing. Written complaints will only be processed. The complainant must be an eyewitness of the incident; the complaint shall not be based on hearsay information. The written complaint should list specifically the alleged incident, and include the following: the name of the interpreter, date and time of the alleged incident, the place where the alleged incident took place, and when appropriate the judges name presiding over the case, or the name of the Court of Justice employee requesting the service, case number, type of court proceeding, and charge, and the name of the person needing the interpreting service. The written complaint must also contain the complainant's first and last name (surname), mailing address, and phone number, and be must signed and dated by the complainant.

The complainant will not be kept anonymous from the court interpreter or other interested parties. The written complaint can be requested by the court interpreter or interested parties. The complainant's phone numbers and addresses will be blackened out on the copy given to the court interpreter. If you have a complaint about a court interpreter's services, please mail a written complaint to: Administrative Office of the Courts, Court Interpreting Services, 100 Millcreek Park, Frankfort, KY 40601-9230

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