Court Interpreter Shortages Worsen, Especially for Rare Languages
Posted Nov 20, 2008 2:15 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Courts are facing a shortage of qualified interpreters even as they hear more cases involving parties who don't speak English.
Critics say the shortage of qualified interpreters is leading some courts to use freelancers who don’t have the proper training, USA Today reports.
A lack of funding for training and testing programs is contributing to the problem, according to Isabel Framer, chairwoman of the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators. She told USA Today there are about 3,000 certified court interpreters, and all but 500 of them interpret Spanish.
The shortage of interpreters in languages other than Spanish is affecting both state and federal courts, Framer said. Richard Carelli, a spokesman for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, didn’t dispute that it can be difficult to find interpreters “for certain indigenous dialects from Central and South American countries.”
But 95 percent of immigration cases using interpreters involve the Spanish language, and the federal courts are doing an adequate job of providing interpreters, he told the publication.
Defense lawyers for Guantanamo detainees have also complained about a lack of qualified interpreters, resulting in “incomprehensible” translations. One example: "In the beginning of the timing of the laws, I said there is no difficulties base."