Court interpreters work to ensure equal access to the courts for all persons regardless of their ability to communicate effectively in the spoken English language.
For Felony, Criminal Misdemeanor/Traffic and Juvenile matters
A court interpreter is appointed whenever the Court determines that the person accused of committing a crime cannot understand the English language and is incapable of being understood by the Court, counsel, or the jury. The Court then enters an order appointing an interpreter who is sworn to interpret and translate all the proceedings.
In the branch court, the interpreters cover traffic and ordinance matters including trials. Services provided at the juvenile courthouse include a variety of hearings including adjudicatory, custody, detention, dispositional, and permanency hearings. They also provide services for bench trials in the juvenile courts.
The court uses both telephonic and contract interpreters for other foreign languages.
For Civil mattersA full-time Spanish court interpreter is provided for all civil and family cases at the presiding judge’s discretion. In particular, the interpreter is available for Mortgage Foreclosure, Small Claims, Forcible Entry and Detainer and Dissolution Prove-up matters. If there is an interpreter available for a longer period of time, they will also do (civil) trials and extended hearings.
In addition to the full-time Spanish interpreter, an additional Spanish interpreter is also provided for the IV-D Child Support cases. The court also provides Spanish speaking mediators for parties referred to the Access and Visitation program.
Consistent with Supreme Court Rule 905, in cases where a litigant can only communicate in a language other than English, the court will make a good-faith effort to provide a mediator, and a pro bono attorney where applicable, and/or an interpreter who speaks the language of the litigant who needs English assistance.
Effective March 1, 2013, Illinois law requires that where a judicial circuit chooses to implement a mortgage foreclosure mediation program, it must provide resources for “meaningful language access for program participants.” Ill. Supr. Ct. R 99.1 (d)(iv).
If a different language interpreter (i.e. Polish, Russian, Korean, etc.) is needed for a case, every attempt is made to coordinate the civil case to be on the same day as the different language interpreter is going to be in the courthouse on a criminal matter. Alternatively, telephonic interpreting remains a viable alternative for the hearings.
For sign interpreters
Whenever a deaf person is a party to any legal proceeding, chosen as a juror, or called as a witness, the Court in all instances appoints a qualified, state licensed interpreter of sign language to interpret the proceedings. In the case of a deaf juror, the interpreter shall be available throughout the actual trial and may accompany and communicate with the juror throughout any period during which the jury is sequestered or engaged in its deliberations. When needed sign interpreters are also contracted with through the court administration office.
Other mattersIn addition to the above courtrooms, Spanish interpreting services are also provided to the Adult Probation and Psychological Services Divisions. These services include intake appointments, pre-sentence investigation reports, psychological evaluations and fitness interviews.