Language Access


 


1  THE RIGHT TO LANGUAGE ASSISTANCE

The courts of Arizona are committed to providing meaningful access to court proceedings, programs, and services to persons with limited English proficiency. In all case types, whether you are a litigant, defendant, victim, witness, parent or guardian of a minor victim, witness or litigant, you have the right to receive the assistance of a competent court interpreter in a timely manner. This assistance will be provided at all court hearings, as well as at all clerks’ offices, public counters, self-help centers, and other court facilities. Services may be provided in-person, over the phone or through video remote services.

Pursuant to Administrative Order 2011-96, each court in Arizona is required to have a current Language Access Plan (LAP) which details the court’s language access services. Each court’s plan is available for review, upon request.  

  2  LANGUAGE SERVICES ARE FREE OF CHARGE 

To ensure that persons with limited English proficiency do not face any barriers to accessing the court, its programs or services, interpreters are provided by the court at no cost to those who need them. You will not be charged any fees or other costs for using an interpreter. You simply need to notify the court in which your case is filed of your need and the court will make all necessary arrangements, pursuant to its Language Access Plan.  

  3  HOW TO NOTIFY THE COURT OF YOUR NEED 

The earlier the court is aware of the need, the better able they will be to make the necessary arrangements in a timely manner. Many courts in Arizona have Spanish interpreters available on staff at all times, while others, where this is less demand, use freelance interpreters. For languages other than Spanish, all courts in the state rely on contract interpreters, telephonic interpreter services, or both. 

There are various options for informing the court of your need for an interpreter. If you have an attorney, tell them you need an interpreter and they will take care of letting the court know. Otherwise: 

  • You may contact the court prior to your hearing, either over the phone or in person at the public counter.
  • You may also inform staff at a court’s self-help center, family court services, or outside justice partners.
  • You can tell court staff you need an interpreter when you check in for your hearing.
  • You can also tell the judge in the courtroom at the time of the proceeding. In these cases, if an interpreter is not available either in person or over the phone at the time of the proceeding, your case may be continued to a date and time when an interpreter can be provided for you.

Remember, the interpreter will be free of charge and asking for one will not negatively impact you or your case in any way. 

  4  THE ROLE OF THE INTERPRETER 

The interpreter’s job is to ensure that you can hear and understand everything that is said in your hearing, and that everything you say is heard and understood by the judge and the other parties to your case. The interpreter will interpret everything that is said without adding or omitting anything. The interpreter, however, will not be able to explain anything to you. This is because the interpreter is not a lawyer. The interpreter is a neutral party and is only allowed to assist with the communication between you and the court. If you have any questions about what is said, of if there is anything that you do not understand, you may ask the judge or other parties to the case, through the interpreter, to give an explanation.  

  5  OTHER CONSIDERATIONS 

Oftentimes, persons with limited English proficiency bring friends or family members with them to court to help communicate with court staff or navigate through the courthouse. In these cases, it can oftentimes seem like a quick and easy solution to ask their English-speaking friends or family to interpret for them. However, interpreting accurately is a difficult skill which takes many years to develop and perfect. As such, to ensure the accurate and impartial translation of all information, no friends or family members of court customers can be allowed to interpret for them during official hearings, events, or other proceedings.  

  6  COMPLAINT FORM 

If you feel like you were denied your right to a competent interpreter, you may file a complaint with the language access coordinator of the court that denied your rights. You can request a complaint form at the customer service counter of that court, or you may download the form from this website: http://www.azcourts.gov/selfservicecenter/Self-Service-Forms/Language-Access-Complaint. The complaint form must be submitted to the court that denied your rights. The court will acknowledge receipt of the complaint and will respond to it within 30 days.