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Hawaii: Chief Justice Speaks on Court Interpreter Certification

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Court Interpreter Certification: Since 1995, the Judiciary has been working diligently to enhance access to justice for our linguistic minority court users. We firmly believe that, if the Judiciary is to be truly accessible to all, we must also be able to service the non-English speaking public, as well as those who have limited English proficiency. In the courtroom environment, we depend on court interpreters to assist us because justice surely cannot be served if, for example, a non-English speaking defendant says in his native language, “I was so mad I could have killed him,” and the interpreter translates, “I was so mad, I killed him.”

Thanks to your support, I am pleased to report that, in 2006, the Judiciary implemented a Court Interpreter Certification Program to ensure that court users obtain properly qualified interpreters. In 2007, the program produced the first certified Ilocano court interpreter in the nation and currently has 168 certified interpreters in thirty different languages, including the high demand Pacific Island languages, such as Chuukese and Marshallese. Because the Judiciary is the only entity in the state that formally screens and tests interpreting skills, many non-judicial agencies and organizations have come to rely on the Judiciary’s list of certified interpreters.

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