Interpreter Services

Kootenai County's minority groups are growing in number. From 2007 to the present, ten different languages were spoken in our courtrooms: 

  • American Sign Language
  • Chuukese
  • German
  • Mandarin
  • Punjabi
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Thai
  • Ukrainian
  • Vietnamese

In order to provide an equal footing and equal access to justice for individuals who, because of a non-English-speaking cultural background or physical impairment, are unable to understand or communicate adequately in English, an interpreter was necessary for each and every one of their proceedings. Interpreters provide services during arraignments, hearings, trials, interviews with counsel, and other proceedings.

What is a Court Interpreter

A court interpreter is a person who interprets orally in a civil or criminal proceeding for a defendant or any party involved in the case that speaks or understands little or no spoken English. Idaho Code Section 9 to 205 guarantees that if "any witness or party does not understand or speak the English language, or who has a physical handicap which prevents him from fully hearing or speaking the English language, then the court shall appoint a qualified interpreter to interpret the proceedings to and the testimony of such witness or party." The role of an interpreter is to allow a non-English speaking defendant or witness to participate in the judicial proceedings.

Why an Interpreter Is Necessary

Interpretation is necessary during court proceedings when there are parties involved in the case who speak primarily or only a language other than English or that, because of a hearing impairment, cannot participate adequately in the proceedings. The purpose of interpreting for defendants who do not speak English is to allow them to understand everything that is being said and to participate effectively in their defense. When witnesses primarily or only speak a language other than English, an interpreter is required so that the person's testimony can be understood and become evidence in the case. If interpretation is inaccurate, defendants may misunderstand what is taking place, or the evidence heard by the judge and jury may be distorted, if not significantly changed. 

What the interpreter says in English following a witness' testimony in another language is what is heard by the judge and jury as evidence, and it is what is recorded in the proceedings. Interpreters who work in court, therefore, have the weighty responsibility of interpreting everything that is said, without adding, deleting, altering, or summarizing the content. Court interpreters also must preserve the nuances and level of formality (or informality) of the speech. Even insulting, embarrassing language, and profanity must be accurately interpreted. 

In addition to rendering spoken English into the foreign language and vice versa, court interpreters are sometimes required to perform sight translation, which is reading documents and interpreting them from English into the foreign language or the foreign language into English.

Request an Interpreter for a Court Proceeding

Please call Jamie Robb in the Trial Court Administrator's office at 208-446-1217.

Become an Interpreter?

Please visit the Idaho Court Interpreter Rosters, Training and Certification Program website.