The Importance of No Cost Language Services

It is important for courts not to burden limited English proficient (LEP) parties by charging them for court interpreting services, an approach that is fraught with problems. Providing certified (and qualified when certification in a language is unavailable) interpreter assistance at no cost to the parties serves the interests of all involved. An LEP person who must pay for an interpreter to participate in proceedings bears a greater financial burden to pursue a case than individuals who are not LEP.


Charging for language access services may also discourage LEP

individuals from using interpreters and encourage them to struggle through their court appearances without understanding or being able to communicate with the court. This, in turn, inhibits not only the LEP person’s ability to participate in the proceedings, but also the ability of the

judge, jurors, and other participants to understand and communicate with the LEP person. Thus, imposing interpreter fees is contrary to the court’s interest in protecting the integrity and fairness of the proceeding.


Rather than charging for language assistance services, state courts may address interpreter costs through a variety of other means. Courts may raise fees across the board, seek additional external funding, or categorize interpreter costs as a core judiciary operating costs; none of these options require courts to treat people differently based on a protected characteristic – national origin

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