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Benchmarks: Journal of the New York State Unified Court System

Summer 2006

Improvements to Come in Court Interpreting Services

THE NEW YORK STATE UNIFIED COURT System in April announced it is evaluating and revamping its court interpreting services across the state to better meet the needs of litigants. The goal of the action plan is to improve the recruitment and assessment of interpreters and manage limited interpreter resources.

Thirty percent of New York residents — nearly five million people — primarily speak a language other than English at home. In all, over 160 distinct languages are spoken in the state. While the diversity of people and languages is one of the state’s strengths, it is also a challenge to the court system.

Only parties to a criminal action are legally entitled to an interpreter, but the New York courts strive to offer interpreting services in as broad a range of civil and criminal proceedings as possible.

Key components of the plan include:
• Statewide expansion of e-scheduling — an on-line program to help court managers quickly find and schedule interpreters in over 100 languages (see technology article, page 5)
• Statewide expansion of remote interpreting by September — interpreters provide services via video conference or telephone from a remote location (also for non-courtroom settings, e.g., offices for the self-represented)
• Increase in the pay rate for per diem interpreters to $250 a day from $125
• Half-day engagements for per diem interpreters at the rate of $140
• Improvement in testing and certification procedures
• Standards for recognizing court interpreters certified by other states
• A Working Group on Translation to develop and oversee a plan for the translation of print, on-line and video materials and identify Web site portions for translation
• A Senior Court Interpreter position for sign language with supervisory responsibilities
• Training program for new court-employed interpreters, and expanded training for judges and court personnel.

For a copy of the plan, call 212-428-2500, or go to www.nycourts.gov/whatsnew.

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Web page updated: September 1, 2006 - www.NYCOURTS.gov