Court Interpreter Communications Archive

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Update for Court Interpreters

Posted: Tuesday, June 23, 2020

This message is being sent to all court interpreters on the state roster, those who work regularly for the district courts and interpreter agencies, or those who are active on the existing Minnesota Judicial Branch interpreter database.
COVID-19 Update for Court Interpreters
The last several months have been a very challenging time for all and I sincerely hope this email finds you and your family in good health and doing well.   
As you know, interpreting in Minnesota’s District Courts took a dramatic turn beginning mid-March due to the coronavirus and the Governor’s Pandemic Response Emergency Order.  During April and May, the number of hearings held with an interpreter dropped by 77 percent and, in almost all hearings held, the interpreter appeared remotely.  Beginning in late May the Judicial Branch entered a new transitional phase and the number of hearings held is increasing every day. To allow participants to attend a hearing remotely, most hearings are conducted using Zoom or Virtual Meeting Room (VMR) applications or by telephone. You may get an assignment offer in IRMA to interpret remotely using one of the on-line platforms. The Scheduling Specialist will include that information in the offer.  If you would like to read more about the different remote hearing platforms, information has been posted on the MJB webpage.
Some hearings are now taking place in the court facility with the Judge and court staff in-person. Safety is still our priority and if participants are able to appear remotely, they will.  As more in-person hearings begin, and interpreters slowing begin returning to the courtroom, local courts are taking safety precautions consistent with the Minnesota Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Attached is a document that details the precautions and includes a list (see below) of things interpreters need to consider before accepting an in-person court assignment.  Please note that courthouses will not have extra facemasks available so please remember to bring your facemask with you.
For Court Interpreters
  • If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 or you are experiencing signs of illness, do not come to the courthouse. Contact the Scheduling Specialist as soon as possible so that appropriate scheduling adjustments can be made.
  • Allow for extra time to enter the courthouse and report to your assignment as there may be physical distancing requirements at check-in points and with elevators that may create delays.
  • Please follow all recommended guidelines when in the courthouse, which may include practicing physical distancing and wearing a mask or other face covering.   Facemask use is encouraged when it does not conflict with interpreting during a hearing.
  • Physical distancing is strongly encouraged. Keep 6 feet - in every direction – between you and others.
  • In order to maintain physical distancing while interpreting, use your own interpreter wireless equipment or equipment provided by the court. If court staff does not give you the equipment, be sure and ask for it.
  • For your safety, court staff will clean and disinfect all parts of the equipment before and after use.
  • If the use of the equipment is not an option, maintain physical distancing from the LEP litigant and interpret in the consecutive mode loud enough for the record.
  • Please note that Judicial Officers may direct court participants to take additional measures in the courtroom. 
  • Check the local courts’ webpage, which includes COVID-19 notices, prior to going to a courthouse in order to understand any local practices in addition to those described here that are in place.
  • Check the IRMA landing page for notices of any general changes in court practices related to the COVID-19 pandemic response. 
Court locations have also reopened for counter service and a reopening webpage has some good information on what to expect if you go to a courthouse.
Thank you so much for your continued work for the District Courts and let us know if you have questions or concerns.
Take care,
Polly Ryan
Program Coordinator
Court Interpreter Program, Language Access Services
Court Services Division