Obstacles For Freelance Court Interpreters: AIJIC Addresses LAP Task Force

On October 17, 2016, AIJIC President Mariana Bension-Larkin addressed the Language Access Plan (LAP) Implementation Task Force in San Francisco on the obstacles that some privately hired certified court interpreters have been facing in court. On those instances, judges didn’t allow our colleagues to interpret because there was a court appointed interpreter available. AIJIC believes that this stems from a misguided interpretation of LAP guidelines.

Ms. Bension-Larkin urged the LAP Task Force to refer judges to section 68561 of the Government Code of California, which specifically indicates that a person who interprets in a court proceeding using a language designated by the Judicial Council shall be a certified court interpreter. The law does not say that the interpreter shall be court appointed.

Ms. Bension-Larkin pointed out to the LAP Task Force that our right to work in court should not be contingent on a judge’s discretion and that court interpreters hired by a private party are also part of Language Access. In spite of this, we’re gradually being excluded from the courts. Many parties who can afford to hire us no longer do so because they can now get interpretation services for free and the few people who still choose to hire us will probably no longer do so if this arbitrary policy continues.

Certified court interpreter Ana Sevilla also spoke before the LAP Task Force about not being allowed to interpret at the Santa Ana court because she had been hired by a private party.

LAP Task Force members assured that it is not the LAP goal to exclude independent interpreters from the courts and that they will take action to stop these instances from happening. It remains unclear though, what action will be taken.

AIJIC will follow this issue and is exploring legal options. In the meantime if you’re not allowed to work in court, please email us to to let us know.

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