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New Certification Program Will Improve the Quality of Court Interpreting

Posted on May 29, 2007 in Press Releases

The Hawai`i State Judiciary is launching a Court Interpreter Certification Program on July 1, 2007. Anyone interested in becoming a court interpreter and who would like to be certified this year must apply by June 20, 2007. Application forms can be obtained from the Office on Equality and Access to the Courts at 539-4860 or by emailing

“In many courtrooms, court officials have no way of knowing if an interpreter is competent to interpret for a non-English speaking victim, witness, or defendant,” said Debi Tulang-De Silva, Equality and Access to the Courts Coordinator. “By certifying interpreters, the Judiciary is better able to ensure the quality and professionalism of interpreters appointed in its courts across the State.”

According to the 2000 United States Census, non-English speakers in Hawai`i account for nearly a quarter of the State’s population, ranking Hawai`i as having one of the largest non-English speaking populations in the country. This diversity is also reflected in Hawaii’s state courts where non- or limited-English speaking court users, as well as the deaf and hard-of-hearing, have constitutional protections to ensure access.

The Judiciary obtains court interpreters on a freelance basis as independent contractors in criminal or certain civil cases when parties or witnesses have limited English proficiency or are unable to hear, understand, speak or use English sufficiently.

The requirements for certification include full completion and acceptance of the certification program application form; successful completion of a two-day orientation workshop; achieving a passing score on a written English proficiency and court interpreter ethics exam; clearing a criminal background check; and achieving a passing score on an oral certification exam in a non-English language.

Briefings to explain the new program have been scheduled during May and June for court staff and interested interpreters statewide.

The court interpreter certification orientation workshops, and written and oral exams will be held on all major islands on the following days:

Orientation Workshops

O`ahu: 6/29 – 30, 7/2-3, and 7/5-6
Maui: 7/9 – 10
Kaua`i: 7/12 – 13
Hilo: 7/16 – 17
Kona: 7/19 – 20

Written Exams

O`ahu: 8/6 through 8/10
Maui: 8/11
Kaua`i: 8/13
Hilo: 8/14
Kona: 8/15

Oral Exams

O`ahu: 9/6 through 9/10
Maui: 9/13
Kaua`i: 9/14
Hilo: 9/11
Kona: 9/12

Interpreters who can interpret in one or more of the following languages are in high demand in the courts: Ilokano, Chuukese, Vietnamese, Spanish, Korean, Tongan, Marshallese, Japanese, American Sign Language, Samoan, Cantonese, Tagalog, Mandarin, and Laotian.

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Contact: Marsha E. Kitagawa, 539-4909

For more information, contact the Communications and Community Relations Office at 808-539-4909 or via email at

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