Court Interpreter Program

The Court Interpreter Program supports the Minnesota Judicial Branch goal of ensuring that people who cannot speak English or are deaf or hearing-disabled will have equal access to participate in cases in Minnesota state courts.  

OverviewThe program coordinates court interpreter testing and training, as well as assists in developing and implementing interpreter policy and best practices.  It also performs various administrative duties, such as maintaining and publishing an online roster of court interpreters who have completed the minimum requirements to become eligible to work in the state court system. 

Court personnel refer to the statewide roster to locate and schedule court interpreters for court hearings. Court interpreters are hired at the county-level directly by the Minnesota district courts. The roster is also available to public agencies, attorneys, and others requiring interpretation services as they search for qualified interpreters for out-of-court work.

Your Right to an Interpreter

If you speak limited or no English and are a party to a case (litigant, defendant, witness, parent, or legal custodian of a juvenile) you have a right to a court-appointed interpreter during court proceedings at no cost to you. Minn. Stat. §§ 480.182.

If you are deaf or hearing impaired, you have a right to an interpreter or other accommodation to assist with any communication at no cost to you. This right is a requirement of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Minn. Stat. §§ 363A.11.  Please visit ADA Accommodation for more information.


In Civil Cases

When a litigant or witness, because of a hearing, speech, or other communication disorder, or because of difficulty in speaking or comprehending the English language, is unable to fully understand the proceedings in which the person is required to participate, or when a party to a legal proceeding is unable by reason of the deficiency to obtain due process of law.  Minn. Stat. §§ 546.42-.43.

In Criminal Cases

At any stage of proceedings in which a person because of a hearing, speech or other communication disorder, or because of difficulty in speaking or comprehending the English language, cannot fully understand the proceedings, or charges, or seizure of property, or is incapable of presenting or assisting in the presentation of a defense.  Minn. Stat. §§ 611.31-.32.
 
County Interpreter Information

Hennepin (Fourth District)

The 4th Judicial District provides interpreters for court appearances in Hennepin County courts. If you are involved in a court case and need an interpreter, please contact the Court Division where your case is filed to request an interpreter.

Ramsey (Second District)

Requesting an Interpreter in Ramsey County District Court

Interpreters
15 W. Kellogg Blvd.
Room 70
St. Paul, MN 55102
(651) 266-8082
The Court Interpreters Office provides qualified court interpreters for defendants, litigants, and witnesses for a variety of court appearances. The interpreters assist the parties in communication and ensure equal access to the courts for non-English speakers.

How do I request an interpreter in Ramsey County District Court?
If you speak some English or are helping someone who does not speak English, call the office where the case is filed and tell the clerk that you want to request an interpreter.  Provide the following information:
  • The date, time and location of the hearing
  • The name of the person who needs an interpreter
  • The language
  • The case number
  • Your telephone number
The clerk will schedule an interpreter for the hearing. Click this link to find telephone number of the office where the case is filed: List of offices


Other Questions

Do I need to provide my own interpreter for my court hearing?
No.  The court will provide an interpreter for you.

I speak some English, but not well enough.  Can I request an interpreter?
Yes.

Is there a cost for court interpreter services?
No.

Can the interpreters help me fill out court forms?
No. Interpreters are there only to interpret. They are not allowed to fill out forms.

Are forms available in my language?
The court provides forms in Hmong, Somali, Spanish, Cambodian, Lao, Oromo, Russian, and Vietnamese. Not all court forms are translated into all available languages.  Please Note: Forms filed with the court MUST be completed in English.

I have a document in my language.  Can the interpreter translate this for me?
No. The interpreters are not allowed to translate documents.

How do I become a Court Interpreter?
Visit the Court Interpreter Program page of the Minnesota Judicial Branch site or call their office at (651) 297-5300.

The Judicial Branch has created, "Going to Court: Tips for Minnesotans who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing," a 20-minute video providing essential information to help ensure that people who are deaf or hard of hearing have equal access to participate in cases in Minnesota state courts. The video is presented in American Sign Language and is captioned.

Courts of law can be confusing and intimidating for people unfamiliar with legal rules and practices. They can be especially so for people with particular communication needs.

The video will help those who are deaf or hard of hearing prepare for a court appearance, including what to expect and how to request communication assistance.



Other "Going to Court in Minnesota" Videos:
When you conduct an interpreter search, you will first be directed to the screen of certified interpreters.  To view the non-certified interpreters, click the appropriate button at the bottom of that screen.  Please note that there are currently certified court interpreters in the following foreign languages: Spanish, Hmong, Somali, Russian, Vietnamese, Mandarin,  French and Lao.

A telephone symbol to the right of the person's name on the roster indicates the interpreter has completed basic remote interpreting education programs.

All Sign Language interpreters on the roster hold a certification.  However, when searching for interpreters, you will first be prompted to a screen demonstrating those with a legal certification.  The others can be found by clicking the "View Generalist Certified Interpreters" button at the bottom of the screen. An ITV icon to the right of the person's name indicates the ASL interpreter has completed the video remote interpreting (VRI) training.

Search the Court Interpreter Roster

Code of Professional Responsibility:

Resources for Skill-Building and Certification:

Special Topic Resources:

Legal Terminology Glossaries:

To Satisfy Minnesota Roster Training Requirements:

 English Proficiency Testing
The first step toward joining the MN Court Interpreter Program is to achieve a passing score of 80% on part one of the multiple choice English proficiency test provided by the National Center for State Courts.

The English Proficiency Written Test scheduled for Wednesday, May 27th, 2015 at 4:30 pm at the Minnesota Judicial Center in St. Paul is full and registration is closed. The next opportunity to take the test will be in July.

New Court Interpreter Orientation
Interpreters who have passed the English proficiency test are welcome to attend our two-day Orientation Program for Court Interpreters, a mandatory step in joining the Minnesota Court Interpreter Roster.  This orientation program provides Court Interpreters an introduction to the Minnesota Judicial system, describes the role of court interpreters, identifies common legal terms and teaches interpreters skill building techniques. 

Watch this website for announcement of the date of next class in the Summer of 2015.

Court Interpreter Ethics Training & Testing
Interpreters who want to be added to the Minnesota Statewide Roster of Court Interpreters must attend a three-hour ethics training session and receive a passing score of 80% on the Ethics and Legal Terminology multiple choice test.  The test is part two of the written test provided by the National Center for State Courts and based also on the Code of Professional Responsibility for Interpreters

Watch this website for announcement of the date of next class in the Summer of 2015.
 

For Spoken Language:

For American Sign Language:

 



Minnesota Roster Requirements

Interpreters who complete the requirements listed below are eligible to work for the state courts and may be listed on the Statewide Roster of Court Interpreters (see the Court Interpreter Roster tab on this page) available to court administrators throughout Minnesota and on the Internet.  To be eligible to work in the Minnesota state court system, all interpreters, whether certified or registered elsewhere, must:
  • Achieve a passing score on the English Proficiency multiple choice test.
  • Successfully complete the New Interpreter Orientation Program.
  • Achieve a passing score on the multiple choice Ethics and Legal Terminology test based in part on the Code of Professional Responsibility for Interpreters in the State Court System.
  • Submit a written, notarized affidavit with the State Court Administrator's Office agreeing to comply with the Code of Professional Responsibility for Interpreters in the Minnesota State Court System.
Sign Language Interpreters must additionally be certified by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) or National Association for the Deaf (NAD) before being included on the statewide roster with one or more of the following certifications: CI and CT, CSC, NAD V, CDI or CDI-provisional.
 
Interpreters on the Roster prior to May 2015 are required, based on a new Statewide Policy (513c), to take and pass the Written Exam developed by the National Center for State Courts before January 2016.
  • Registration is now open for interpreters on the roster to take the test in St Paul at William Mitchell College of Law. You can choose from one of the following testing dates: June 6th at 9 am, June 9th at 5:30 pm, June 22nd at 5:30 pm and June 27th at 9:30 am.
  • Registration is now open for interpreters living in the Rochester area to take the test on May 9th at 1 pm at the University of Minnesota Rochester. Space is limited and preference will be given to interpreters living the Rochester area or southern part of Minnesota.
  • Registration is now open for interpreters living in the St. Cloud area to take the test on May 30th at 10 am at the St. Cloud Technical & Community College. Space is limited and preference will be given to interpreters living the St. Cloud area or northern part of Minnesota.
 

English Proficiency Testing

The first step toward joining the MN Court Interpreter Program is to achieve a passing score of 80% on part one of the multiple choice English proficiency test provided by the National Center for State Courts.

The English Proficiency Written Test scheduled for Wednesday, May 27th, 2015, at 4:30 pm at the Minnesota Judicial Center in St. Paul is full and registration is closed. The next opportunity to take the test will be in July.
 

New Court Interpreter Orientation

Interpreters who have passed the English proficiency test are welcome to attend our two-day Orientation Program for Court Interpreters, a mandatory step in joining the Minnesota Court Interpreter Roster.  This orientation program provides Court Interpreters an introduction to the Minnesota Judicial system, describes the role of court interpreters, identifies common legal terms and teaches interpreters skill building techniques. 

Watch this website for announcement of the date of next class in the Summer of 2015.
 

Court Interpreter Ethics Training & Testing

Interpreters who want to be added to the Minnesota Statewide Roster of Court Interpreters must attend a three-hour ethics training session and receive a passing score of 80% on the Ethics and Legal Terminology multiple choice test.  The test is part two of the written test provided by the National Center for State Courts and based also on the Code of Professional Responsibility for Interpreters

Watch this website for announcement of the date of next Ethics class in the Summer of 2015.

MJC = Minnesota Judicial Center, St. Paul: Address, map, and directions



Court Interpreter Certification Exam

Advanced and experienced interpreters who want to specialize in court work are encouraged to take the Certification Exam to become a Minnesota Certified Court Interpreter.  The courts are required to appoint certified interpreters first.
  • Exams will be offered again November 2015.
Exams will be available in the following languages:  Spanish, Hmong, Somali, Arabic (Modern Standard for sight and simultaneous portions & Egyptian Collloquial for the consecutive portion), Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Haitian Creole, Lao, Korean, Russian, French, Khmer, and Portuguese
 

To Prepare for Certification Exam:

Certification Exam Resources:

Prerequisites for taking the Certification Exam for all Interpreters:

  1. Candidates for the certification exam should already be fluent in their non-English language at levels equivalent to that of highly educated native speakers.
  2. Are you ready for the exam?  Find out if you are ready by using the Certification Exam Self Assessment Tool
  3. Interpreters MUST read Overview of the Oral Performance Examination for information abou the certification exam.
  4. Interpreters are encouraged to purchase a Court Interpreter Practice Examination Kit - All-English to study prior to the Certification Exam.  Information on purchasing the kit is available on the NCSC website.

Additional Certification Requirements

In addition to completing all requirements for inclusion on the statewide roster, interpreters who wish to become certified must prove to the State Court Administrator that they are at least 18-years-old, have good character and fitness as evidenced by a background check (cost is $15), and have passing scores on a legal interpreting proficiency exam (certification exam) administered or approved by the State Court Administrator's Office.
 

Please note the following rules regarding the spoken language certification exams:

  1. To be eligible for certification in Minnesota, you must pass all three sections of the exam (Simultaneous, Consecutive, and Sight Translation) with a score of at least 70 percent in each section.
  2. To be eligible for certification in Minnesota, you must take and pass all three sections on the same day or within the same testing cycle.  Minnesota will administer the exam only in this fashion.
  3. Interpreters are limited as to the number of times they may take the same version of the test.  The rationale behind this is that if an interpreter continued to take the same test version over and over, that interpreter may easily memorize the exam contents and the exam would no longer hold validity as a measure of interpreting skills.  The number of versions varies depending on language. 
  4. Some people assume that being certified in one state automatically qualifies them to be certified in other states.  This is not necessarily true.  To find out whether you qualify for certification in another state, please contact that state's Court Interpreter Program Manager. See List of state court interpreter program contacts.

Interpreter and Agency Invoicing System:

Invoicing Instructions:         

How much do I charge?  


Contact Court Interpreter Staff
Send an email via our contact form

 
Effectively communicating through interpreters in the courtroom is a complicated matter. However, you will enhance the quality of communication by becoming aware of the rules surrounding interpreter usage, as well as simple steps that you can take to successfully communicate through interpreters.  This section is designed to provide the legal community a centralized resource for applicable statutes, court rules, and other resources. 
 

Minnesota Statutes:

  • For use, appointment and qualification of court interpreters in civil proceedings, see Minn. Stat. §§ 546.42, 546.43, 546.44
  • For use, appointment and qualification of court interpreters in criminal proceedings, see Minn. Stat. §§ 611.31, 611.32, 611.33

Minnesota Court Rules:

Other Resources:

Minnesota's courts want to provide the best possible service to all individuals receiving interpreter services.  The State Court Administrator’s Office has established a procedure for the filing of formal complaints about interpreter services and conducting formal complaint investigations. 

These procedures apply only to interpreters who are included on the Statewide Roster of Court Interpreters maintained by the State Court Administrator.  The interpreters on the roster include certified and non-certified interpreters who have passed the Ethics Examination administered by the State Court Administrator and who have filed with the State Court Administrator a written affidavit agreeing to be bound by the Code of Professional Responsibility for Court Interpreters in the Minnesota state court system. 

Enforcement Procedure for the Code of Professional Responsibility for Court Interpreters.

Complaints must be submitted using the Court Interpreter Complaint Form and mailed or delivered to the following address: 
Minnesota Court Interpreter Program
State Court Administrator's Office
Court Services, Suite 105
25 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155
(651) 297-5300

Contact Us:

MN Court Interpreter Program
State Court Administrator's Office
25 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155
 

Give Us Your Feedback:

Please help us to continue improving our services by telling us about your experience with the court system.  Use one of the feedback forms below:
Minnesota Judicial Center (MJC)
25 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155
 

Contact Court Interpreter Program Staff: