Federally certified court interpreters are highly skilled professionals who bring to the judicial process specialized language skills, impartiality, and propriety in dealing with parties, counsel, the court, and the jury. All contract court interpreters, regardless of certification, are appointed to serve the court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1827. When interpreters are sworn in they become, for the duration of the assignment, officers of the court with the specific duty and responsibility of interpreting between English and the language specified. In their capacity as officers of the court, contract court interpreters are expected to follow the Standards for Performance and Professional Responsibility for Contract Court Interpreters in the Federal Courts.
1: Accuracy and Completeness
Interpreters shall render a complete and accurate interpretation or sight translation that preserves the level of language used without altering, omitting, or adding anything to what is stated or written, and without explanation. The obligation to preserve accuracy includes the interpreter’s duty to correct any error of interpretation discovered by the interpreter during the proceeding.
2: Representation of Qualifications
Interpreters shall accurately and completely represent their certifications, training, and pertinent experience.
3: Impartiality, Conflicts of Interest, and Remuneration and Gifts
Impartiality. Interpreters shall be impartial and unbiased and shall refrain from conduct that may give an appearance of bias. During the course of the proceedings, interpreters shall not converse with parties, witnesses, jurors, attorneys, or with friends or relatives of any party, except in the discharge of their official functions.
Conflicts of Interest. Interpreters shall disclose any real or perceived conflict of interest, including any prior involvement with the case, parties, witnesses or attorneys, and shall not serve in any matter in which they have a conflict of interest.
Remuneration and Gifts. Court interpreters shall accept remuneration for their service to the court only from the court. Court interpreters shall not accept any gifts, gratuities, or valuable consideration from any litigant, witness, or attorney in a case in which the interpreter is serving the court, provided, however, that when no other court interpreters are available, the court may authorize court interpreters working for the court to provide interpreting services to, and receive compensation for such services from, an attorney in the case.
4. Professional Demeanor
In the course of their service to the court, interpreters shall conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the dignity of the court and shall be as unobtrusive as possible.
Interpreters shall protect the confidentiality of all privileged and other confidential information.
6: Restriction of Public Comment
Interpreters shall not publicly discuss, report, or offer an opinion concerning a matter in which they are or have been engaged, even when that information is not privileged or required by law to be confidential.
7: Scope of Practice
Interpreters shall limit themselves to interpreting or translating, and shall not give legal advice, express personal opinions to individuals for whom they are interpreting, or engage in any other activities which may be construed to constitute a service other than interpreting or translating while serving as an interpreter.
8: Assessing and Reporting Impediments to Performance
Interpreters shall assess at all times their ability to deliver their services. When interpreters have any reservation about their ability to satisfy an assignment competently, they shall immediately convey that reservation to the appropriate judicial authority.
9: Duty to Report Ethical Violations
Interpreters shall report to the proper judicial authority any effort to impede their compliance with any law, any provision of these Standards, or any other official policy governing court interpreting and legal translating.
Source: “Standards for Performance and Professional Responsibility for Contract Court Interpreters in the Federal Courts.” Available online at: