ADA
Interpreter Information

Does the Court provide interpreters?

Photo of two individuals having a conversation

If you are involved in a proceeding for a Criminal, Traffic, Juvenile, or Family Court Hearing, you may ask the clerk at the counter or the clerk in the courtroom for an interpreter. If an interpreter is not available at the time of your hearing, your case may be continued by the Court until an interpreter can be assigned.

If you are involved in a civil or small claims hearing, the court will not provide you with an interpreter. It is your responsibility to get your own interpreter. You may ask a friend, relative, or someone else to interpret for you when you go to court. Please do not ask a child (minor, under 18) to interpret for you.

Keep in mind that even though someone you know speaks both English and your first language it does not mean he or she would be a good interpreter. A court interpreter needs to be familiar with legal terms and concepts in both English and your first language, and most people are not. That is why it is very important you have an interpreter with experience.

If you decide to use a noncertified or nonregistered interpreter, such as a friend or relative, have the person read the instructions and duties for interpreting in the information sheet called Foreign Language Interpreter’s Duties-Civil and Small Claims (INT-200) .

Tips for using an interpreter

Using a court interpreter can be awkward, because you have to go through another person to get your information or talk to the judge. Follow these tips when using an interpreter in a courtroom:

  • Listen carefully to the interpreter.
  • Wait for the interpreter to finish talking before you answer.
  • Speak slowly so the interpreter can hear everything you say.

Do not interrupt, even if someone in court says something bad about you. You will get a chance to speak.

What if the Court doesn't have an interpreter that speaks my language?

To locate an interpreter that speaks your language, check on the AOC (State Court Judicial Council) website. On the left side of the AOC's Interpreter  home page  are some links - you will want to click on the link that says "Search for an interpreter" which will take you to a web page with links to several lists of interpreters, as well as a searchable directory of interpreters who are in good standing with the Judicial Council.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

If you require the services of a sign language interpreter, you may request one at any courthouse, for any type of hearing you may have. This includes civil hearings, small claims hearings and jury duty.

What if I want to become an interpreter?

If you are interested in becoming an interpreter, please visit the Judicial Council's "Become an Interpreter" page .

© 2014 Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara