SC Judicial Department’s Need for a Uniform Standard in Scheduling Interpreters

In South Carolina courts, who is responsible for scheduling an interpreter? One would think that this could all be done through one central office that oversees the interpreter services in all South Carolina courts, right? Not so fast. Only Massachusetts has a central office that schedules interpreters for all state courts.

Usually, a county clerk of court contacts the interpreter. Most interpreters are fine with this arrangement. Indeed, interpreters may also request the clerk of court to have the judge sign form SCCA 262 (or 262F) in advance; if the judge executes the order, they have assurances that they will probably get paid. There is a discrepancy in how summary, magistrate, and municipal court clerks schedule interpreters and their knowledge of locating interpreters for languages other than Spanish (LOTS).

Often, attorneys have a need for an interpreter for their clients in court.. In Greenville County General Sessions, they are typically directed to contact an interpreter on the South Carolina Court Interpreter Directory. When this happens, new issues arises. Is it easy for counsel to locate the certified interpreters? Will Court Administration pay for the interpreter or will the attorney? Often, the attorney assumes that the court is responsible to pay, and he may assume wrong.

South Carolina court typically pays for criminal cases and family court (DV, DSS, divorce and child custody), but not for civil court hearings and trials. Since certified court interpreters aren’t pro bono practitioners; their services aren’t free. They must determine beforehand who will pay for their services, in writing. Regardless of who is contacted, it will be helpful to you to complete this form first and then send it by e-mail. If you have a civil matter in court, you will receive a proposal, execute it, and pay for professional services rendered.

If you need an interpreter for a language that doesn’t appear in the South Carolina directory, your first step is to call the clerk of court in the particular court for information.  If your clerk cannot locate an interpreter in that language, call South Carolina Court Administration’s Deputy Director, Court Reporters and Court Interpreters, Karama T. Bailey

Until uniform standards are implemented in South Carolina’s judicial department with trained schedulers, you’ll need to follow the steps above.

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