Interpreter Services for Courts

When to request an interpreter

The decision to appoint an interpreter should be made as early as possible. If unsure of the need, voir dire the litigant or witness by asking open-ending questions in English during a brief hearing. Some examples of questions may be:

  • How did you arrive at court today?
  • How did you learn English?
  • What is the most difficult thing about communicating in English?

Interpreting is not translating

These two terms are often used interchangeably, but completely different skills are required for each. Interpreting means to transfer a verbal message from the source language into a verbal message in the target language. Translating means to transfer a written message from the source language into a written message in the target language.

Interpreting in person versus over the phone

The Indiana Supreme Court has a telephone interpreting service, Language Line: 800-752-6096. Use Language Line for brief routine matters only. For trials, guilty plea hearings, or evidentiary proceedings, an in-person interpreter should be used.

Contact us to get started with Language Line. We will provide your court with an ID number to use when you call in. This service is free for Indiana trial courts.

Who may interpret

Family members, friends, minor children, and bilingual attorneys are not qualified to interpret during an official court proceeding. Only a certified or qualified interpreter who is neutral and does not know the parties should interpret a court proceeding. See our certified interpreter registry for available interpreters.

Paying interpreters

In most cases, the court must pay for interpreter services. To provide equal and meaningful access to limited English proficient individuals who access the judicial system, it is the responsibility of the court to pay the costs for an interpreter. If you have questions about whether you should pay, please contact us.