Posted by: sbilingual | March 27, 2012

What Does a Court Interpreter Do?

Court Interpreters work to translate information from another language into English for the court systems. They work with lawyers, witnesses and defendants to relay information for depositions, hearings and other court cases. Court Interpreters must be fluent in more than one language in addition to having adequate knowledge of legal terminology.

Job Description

A Court Interpreter is someone who works with the court system to provide language interpretation for those who do not speak fluent English. Court Interpreters may work with witnesses or defendants in such cases. They are fluent in multiple languages and are able to understand the tone of conversation in other languages. It is a Court Interpreter’s job to orally translate everything that is said. They must work to preserve the same tone and connotation as the original language and are not able to add or delete anything from the conversation. The vocabulary range of a Court Interpreter must be extensive and include everything from formal language to slang.

Daily Duties

There are two methods in which conversation is translated: simultaneous and consecutive. Simultaneous interpretation requires the Court Interpreter to listen and speak at the same time. It is quite common for this type of interpretation to be done in pairs. The interpreter will begin translating aloud as the person is still completing their sentence. It is not typical to be used in the court systems, but can happen. Consecutive interpretation, on the other hand, begins after the person has completed their thought, sentence or phrase. Many times this means the interpreter will take notes or shorthand to make sure nothing is missed from the conversation.

The most common translation in the U.S. is from Spanish to English, but language translation will depend on the area of the country and the native language of the person in need. It is vitally important for Court Interpreters to remain detached from the content of conversations so they keep the original tone and context.

Work Setting

Court Interpreters will typically work in a court room or other judicial location. They may also work in attorney-client meetings for interviews and depositions. They work with witnesses, families, legal personal and defendants. Court Interpreters may work odd hours and oftentimes work part-time. Depending on the need of the organization they work for, their services may be needed consecutively one month and sporadically the next. It all depends on the legal cases and need for language interpretation. When Court Interpreters are on a case, the hours may be long and the job can become stressful. However, freelance and self-employed Court Interpreters may enjoy the opportunity to control their schedules.

To find out how Bilingual Resources Group can support your interpretation, translation and bilingual staffing needs, please call 504-253-0364 or visit


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