WELCOME TO THE DATABASE
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RESOURCE CENTER GUIDE
Welcome to the National Database of State Court Interpreters maintained by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). The database allows you to search for spoken and sign language interpreters who may have experience interpreting in state or federal courts and legal proceedings in the United States.
The database includes:
We encourage you to use this valuable resource.
The NCSC assigns interpreters in the database to a tier, based on their credentials. The tier system was developed by the National Proficiency Designation Working Group, which includes state program managers, state court administrators, and NCSC staff. Placement on the tier system depends primarily on test scores. An explanation of the system can be found here: National Proficiency Designations.
Trained interpreters adhere to a professional code that articulates a set of core principles that guide the conduct of a court interpreter and educate others about the conduct expected of a professional interpreter. The code addresses accuracy and completeness; representation of interpreter qualifications; impartiality and conflict of interest; professional demeanor; confidentiality and restrictions on public comments; limitations on giving legal advice; reporting ethical violations; and professional development.
Certification is the highest level of qualification for an interpreter. But many interpreters are not certified because the testing needed to become certified is only available in 22 languages. The database provides leads to interpreters who may be qualified to deliver the language services that a user needs. Not all interpreters in the database are certified, nor are they necessarily qualified for every type of interpreting event. Before using an interpreter from the database, a user should contact the interpreter directly to describe the interpreting event and interview the interpreter about his or her qualifications and experience.
Currently, only the Council of Language Access Coordinators (CLAC) managers and their designees can search the password-protected database. Authorized users who wish to access the database may contact Justin Apperson to receive logon credentials.
Most interpreters in the database can deliver services in-person or telephonically, and a growing number of interpreters offer services using video remote technology. The database allows you to search for interpreters by the method of delivery you prefer or require (in-person, telephonic, or video remote) regardless of the delivery method.
Regardless of the delivery method, each court must work directly with the interpreter to negotiate the terms and professional standards required for all aspects of service.
Interpreters in the database are independent contractors and set their own rates.
Factors that may determine an interpreter’s fee include:
The database population is over 1,300 interpreters with expertise in 50 languages (both spoken and sign). The current languages are:
The NCSC launched the National Database of State Court Interpreters (NDSCI) in May 2016 to help states locate trained interpreters.
As shown on the NDSCI search page below, the database offers multiple ways to search for an interpreter. For example, you can search by language, state, city, first or last name, time zone or tier status; you do not need to fill out every search query field. Once you click the “Search” button, a list of potential interpreters will appear. You will see the interpreter’s name, city and the state(s) in which the interpreter is credentialed.
It’s easy, convenient, and efficient!
The interpreters are individuals who have completed state and/or federal testing and training requirements for their particular languages. They adhere to ethical standards, and most have experience interpreting in the courtroom.
To become credentialed by a state court, an interpreter is generally required to:
Most interpreters in the database can deliver services in-person or telephonically. A growing number of interpreters listed on the database can provide services using video remote technology.
Interpreters in the database are independent contractors. The interpreters set their own rates.
Factors that may determine an interpreter’s fees include:
Currently, only the Council of Language Access Coordinators (CLAC) managers and their designees can search the password-protected database. CLAC managers may be able to help attorneys or other legal entities find a qualified interpreter in the database.
To get access to the database, state program managers need a user name and password. Contact Justin Apperson to get your user name and password.
The user name and password never expire. Once you sign on for the first time, you can bookmark the database, so you will have immediate access when needed.
Interpreters are added to the database by a CLAC program manager. The interpreter’s information is verified by the NCSC and the interpreter is then assigned to the appropriate designation based on his or her qualifications.
To give database users a quick way to find interpreters with the needed skills, the Language Access Advisory Committee (LAAC), a subcommittee of the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA), established the National Proficiency Designations for Court Interpreters (NPDI). The NPDI groups interpreters based primarily on test scores.
The NPDI, with explanation of each tier, is located at: National Proficiency Designations.
The Model Guide for Interpreter Code of Ethics in the judiciary articulates a core set of principles to guide the conduct of a court interpreter and to educate others in the level of conduct expected. The code addresses accuracy and completeness, representation of interpreter qualifications, impartiality and conflict of interest, professional demeanor, confidentiality and restriction of public comment, limitations on giving legal advice, reporting ethical violations, and professional skill development.
To report a complaint about an interpreter you selected from the database, contact the originating state that conferred credentialing on that interpreter.
Legal interpretation is a specialized field requiring specific knowledge, training, and experience. Courtroom interpreters must have the skills to interpret accurately, faithfully, and impartially. In court proceedings, important constitutional issues may be at stake such as a person’s liberty, or the custody of children.
An untrained interpreter’s choice of words, lack of skill, lack of specialized terminology or unfamiliarity with the professional responsibilities of an interpreter may adversely affect the outcome of courtroom proceedings, the integrity of the record, and the confidence of those involved in the court hearing.
Using a trained interpreter reduces the likelihood that an interpreter may make a substantive error that affects matters central to the case and harms the party.
A trained interpreter will follow a code of ethics. The code requires interpreters to: