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Interpreter Information

Court Reporter and Interpreter Services (CRIS) is part of the Operations Support Division. Our Mission is to serve the court and community through the preservation of the official court record; and by providing language assistance to the Limited English Proficient (LEP) court users and the hearing impaired.

The Superior Court of California, County of Orange is committed to Justice. Providing equal access to Justice is the role of the court interpreter, whose duty it is to act as a medium between the court and anyone who needs language assistance.

The Court is staffed with 65 interpreters at 7 justice centers who together with over 250 additional contract interpreters serve the court and public by providing access to justice in over 50 languages.

Learn more about California’s Court Interpreter Program (CIP) and how to become an interpreter by visiting: http://www.courts.ca.gov/programs-interpreters.htm 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

*Click on a FAQ to read our answer

What is a Court Interpreter?

A court interpreter is anyone who interprets in a court proceeding (e.g., arraignment, motion, pretrial conference, preliminary hearing, deposition, trial) for a witness or defendant who speaks or understands little or no English. Court interpreters must accurately interpret for individuals with a high level of education and an expansive vocabulary, as well as persons with very limited language skills without changing the language register of the speaker. Interpreters are also sometimes responsible for translating written documents, often of a legal nature, from English into the target language and from the target language into English.

What if I Need an Interpreter?

TIn Criminal, Traffic, and Domestic Violence proceedings and hearings for support involving the Department of Child Support Services in Family Law cases, the interpreter is provided by the court. For other types of cases, you must provide your own interpreter. You can read more about this in the Self-Help Section of this website.

Is Special Training Recommended to Become a Court Interpreter?

Yes. Court interpreting is a very demanding job that requires complete fluency in both English and the foreign language. The level of expertise required for this profession is far greater than that required for everyday bilingual conversation. The interpreter must be able to handle the widest range of language terms that might be presented in the courts, everything from specialized legal and technical terminology to street slang. Most people do not have full command of all registers of both English and the foreign language and, therefore, require special training to acquire it. Although there are no minimum requirements that must be met in order to apply to take the state certification test, applicants are encouraged to complete formal, college-level course work and training in both languages and modes of interpreting before applying for the examination. At present there are colleges and universities throughout the State of California that offer introductory courses and certificate programs in interpretation or translation. However, most of these are for English/Spanish. We encourage you to contact the schools and request information about their programs. For the other languages, the following self-study techniques are suggested: (1) expand your vocabulary, (2) develop your own glossaries, and (3) develop interpreting techniques. Suggested skills-enhancing exercises are available to help you develop three interpreting techniques: (1) consecutive interpretation, (2) simultaneous interpretation, and (3) sight translation.

Learn more about California’s Court Interpreter Program (CIP) and how to become an interpreter by visiting: http://www.courts.ca.gov/programs-interpreters.htm . Direct further questions to the toll-free number 866-310-0689 or send an e-mail to CourtInterpreters@jud.ca.gov.

What is the Difference Between a Certified and a Registered Interpreter?

Only interpreters who pass the Court Interpreter Certification Examination and fulfill the corresponding Judicial Council requirements are referred to as certified interpreters. Currently, there are Court Interpreter Certification Examinations for 14 designated languages: Arabic, Eastern Armenian, Western Armenian, Cantonese, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. Interpreters of spoken languages for which there is no state certifying examination are required to pass the English Fluency Examination and fulfill the corresponding Judicial Council requirements in order to become registered interpreters of a non-designated language.

What is the Job Market Like for Court Interpreters?

There is a great demand in Orange County for certified and registered court interpreters. Many certified and registered court interpreters work as permanent employees while others work as freelance contract interpreters, hired by the day or the half day by the courts. A contract interpreter must be willing to travel from one trial court to another, and often from one county to another, to be assured of full-time work. Currently, contract court interpreters are paid $282.23 a day and $156.56 for half day. You can read more about the salary, benefits, and duties of a Superior Court of Orange county staff interpreter on the Employment section of this website .

Is Certification Required to Become a Sign Language Interpreter?

Under California Evidence Code §754(f) a qualified sign language interpreter is an interpreter who has been certified as competent to interpret court proceedings by an organization approved by the Judicial Council. The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. is currently the only organization authorized by the Judicial Council to certify court interpreters for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. http://www.rid.org/ 

How do I Become a Translator?

A translator reads and writes documents. Contact the American Translators Association at 703-683-6100 or visit its Web site at http://atanet.org/ .

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