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Federal Court Interpreter Program

The use of competent federal court interpreters in proceedings involving speakers of languages other than English is critical to ensure that justice is carried out fairly for defendants and other stakeholders. 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, when the Director considers certification of interpreters to be merited, for the hearing impaired (whether or not also speech impaired) and persons who speak only or primarily a language other than the English language, in judicial proceedings instituted by the United States.

The Administrative Office classifies three categories of interpreters:

The professional knowledge, skills, and abilities required of a federal court interpreter are highly complex. Communication in courtroom proceedings may be more complex than that in other settings or in everyday life. For example, the parties involved may use specialized and legal terminology, formal and informal registers, dialect and jargon, varieties in language and nuances of meaning.

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