Ada County

Photo courtesy of Justice Wayne Kidwell, Idaho Supreme Court, Retired

Interpreter Services

Interpreter Coordinator: Sandra Barrios
Address: 200 W. Front Street, Room 4171, Boise ID 83702
Telephone: (208)287-7686

Idaho's minority groups are growing in number. During the years 2002 and 2003, twenty-seven different languages were spoken in our courtrooms: Afghan, Albanian, Arabic, Basque, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Chinese, Czech, Farsi, Filipino, French, German, Hindi, Korean, Kurdish, Laotian, Marshallese, Polish, Punjabi, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Sign, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese. In order to provide an equal footing and equal access to justice for individuals who, because of a non-English-speaking cultural back-ground 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 9-205 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 is an interpreter 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.

How do I request an interpreter for a court proceeding?

Please call our office at (208)287-7686 or our main line at 287-7500, or please complete and submit to this office the on-line Request for Interpreter form.

*Note: This form may also be used to request an interpreter for an individual who is hearing impaired.

What are the interpreter fee rates?

Ada County will be responsible for providing in-court services. The general rate is $25.00 per hour. The rate for certified Spanish interpreters is $30.00 per hour. Mileage is 45.5¢ per mile. Interpreters work freelance as independent contractors, so for out-of-court interpreting or translations of documents, each interpreter charges his or her own fee. The county is not responsible for that fee, unless ordered by the judge presiding over the case.

How do I become an interpreter?

You must fill out an application with personal information and undergo a criminal background check.

*Note: For Spanish proceedings, the courts are asked to give priority to Spanish certified interpreters.

How do I become a certified interpreter?

Training for the certification program for Spanish language is sponsored jointly by the Idaho Supreme Court and The United States District Court. For information about the certification program, please contact Janica Bisharat at(208)947-7417.