Many people in Vermont do not speak English. Others have a limited ability to read, speak, write, or understand English. Still others are deaf or hard of hearing. All of these people have a right to access the programs and services of the Vermont courts. This right also applies to the programs and services of organizations receiving funding from the Judiciary.
The Judiciary provides interpreting and translating services at no cost. An interpreter converts spoken words or words conveyed in sign language from one language to a different language. A translator converts text written in one language to text written in another language.
If you are a party to or witness in a court proceeding or are the parent of a minor involved in a juvenile action and you believe you need an interpreter or translator, please contact staff at your local court, or you may file a written request with the judge in your case.
The court proceedings covered by the Judiciary's policy include:
- Appellate arguments
- Case management conferences
- Commitment hearings
- Competency hearings
- COPE program seminars for families going through separation or divorce
- Discussions with court employees, including court clerks
- Education programs for self-represented litigants (also known as pro se education)
- Judicially ordered mediation sessions
- Jury selection
- Motion hearings
Examples of proceedings that are not covered by the Judiciary's policy include:
- Discussions between lawyers and their clients
- Interrogations conducted as part of a police investigation
- Programs ordered as a condition of probation or parole
- Settlement discussions
Please keep in mind that other individuals or entities might be required to provide interpreting or translation services for these proceedings.
For more information about how the Judiciary implements this policy, please see the Vermont Judiciary Language Access Plan.
The Judiciary keeps a list of interpreters and translators who are willing to provide services in covered court proceedings and organizations that assign individual interpreters. Courts generally look to this list when they receive a request for an interpreter or need a translator.
Please note that some parties ask if a relative or friend can serve as an interpreter. Courts generally prefer to assign independent interpreters. Before a judge allows an interpreter to interpret during a court case, the judge will ask the interpreter about qualifications and training as well as connections to any party in the case. The judge decides whether someone can interpret accurately.
If you or someone you know is interested in applying to be an interpreter for the Vermont Judiciary, please review the Court Interpreter Manual:
Please also complete the forms in Appendix D and Appendix E, and send them to the program manager for the Court Interpreter Program:
Court Interpreter Program
109 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05609-0701
To interpret in a covered court proceeding and receive payment for that service, you must sign a form to affirm that:
- You are at least 18 years old
- You have provided accurate information on the Initial Determination of Interpreter Qualifications form
- You have read the Code of Professional Responsibility for Interpreters in the Vermont State Court System, understands the responsibilities written in that document, and agrees to follow them during any court proceeding in which you provide interpreting services
- You have not been convicted of a felony or any other crime of dishonesty, deceit, fraud, or moral turpitude
- You have not been disqualified from interpreting in any court or administrative hearing other than for a conflict of interest
Upon your appointment, the judge will ask you to swear an oath of true interpretation.