A judge must appoint interpreters in judicial proceedings (civil or criminal) instituted by the United States, if the judge determines that a party or a witness speaks only or primarily a language other than English or has a hearing impairment (whether or not suffering also from a speech impairment), so as to inhibit that person’s comprehension or communication in the proceeding.
The term “judicial proceedings instituted by the United States” refers to all proceedings, whether criminal or civil, including pretrial and grand jury proceedings (as well as proceedings upon a petition for a writ of habeas corpus initiated in the name of the United States by a relator) conducted in, or under the lawful authority and jurisdiction of, a U.S. district court. See 28 U.S.C. § 1827(j) and § 230.
In all other proceedings not instituted by the United States, parties are responsible for securing and paying for interpreters.
Becoming an Interpreter
Information about becoming a Federal Court Interpreter can be found by visiting www.uscourts.gov. Information on Judiciary Staff Travel Regulations, which traveling contract court interpreters are required to comply with, can be found here. For information on becoming a Federal Court Interpreter, you can also visit www.ncsc.org/fcice.