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New York StateUnified Court System

FAQ's on Getting an Interpreter

Q. Does the court system accommodate requests for an interpreter?

A. The court system provides language interpreters and sign interpreters for non-English speaking persons and those who are hearing impaired to insure that parties can clearly understand proceedings and are able to participate in court programs and services.

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Q. What do I do if I need a foreign language or sign language interpreter for a court appearance?

A. If you or someone you know needs an interpreter for a court appearance, you should contact the Chief Clerk's Office of the court in which you are going to appear. If you do not know how to reach the court, you may call the Office of Language Access at (646) 386-5670 for a proper referral.

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Q. What foreign language interpreters are available in the court system?

A. The court system currently employs full-time and part-time interpreters in the following languages: Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Cantonese, Croatian, Dutch, French, Greek, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Polish, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Urdu and Woloff.

Where a court does not have a staff interpreter available, the court system provides foreign language interpreters by contacting individuals or interpreting services.

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Q. What are a court interpreter's responsibilities?

A. Interpreters must provide an accurate, impartial interpretation of court proceedings. To insure that interpreters meet these responsibilities, the court system has set up a number of testing and screening measures and requires all interpreters to take an official swearing to "discharge the duties of the position of court interpreter to the best of my ability."

Court Interpreters are required to observe a code of professional conduct. They are expected to provide interpreting services in an impartial, accurate and proficient manner.

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Q. How do court interpreters know there are standards of professional conduct?

A. The standards of professional conduct and ethical behavior are found and reinforced in the UCS Court Interpreter Manual and the Court Interpreter Canons of Professional Responsibility.

Court Interpreters are also expected to participate in training programs provided by the court system on ethics, domestic violence and sensitivity to cultural diversity.

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Q. Where may I direct questions concerning language access and court interpreting services?

A. Any question concerning court interpreting may be directed to the Office of Language Access for response or referral to the appropriate court personnel. For further information, you may contact the office in writing, by e-mail or by telephone:

Office of Court Administration
Division of Professional and Court Services
25 Beaver Street, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10004
(646) 386-5670

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