There IS a Guideline for Scheduling Court Interpreters!

Some time ago, we published a blog, How do I schedule an interpreter because every SC county is different?  In it, we mentioned that the SC Judicial Branch didn’t seem to have a uniform standard system for scheduling interpreters.  Our bad.  The Palmetto State does have a standard.  Where is it?

It’s in the South Carolina Clerk of Court and Register of Deeds Manual of May 21, 2014 at 1.22 Court Interpreter Procedural Guidelines:

The following procedures are provided as general guidelines when a deaf person or a non-English speaking person, who is a juror, witness, or a party to a legal proceeding is in need of an interpreter:

1. The clerk of court is to complete an order of appointment for an interpreter, SCCA/262, and obtain the judge’s signature on the order.  (A list of interpreters is available through Court Administration).

2. The clerk of court should notify the interpreter of their appointment.

3. Once the interpreter’s services have been rendered, it is the interpreter’s responsibility to complete a timesheet, SCCA/264, and also the Request for Payment, SCCA/263.

4. The timesheet, SCCA/264, should detail the actual hours spent interpreting at the completion of the court proceeding.  Interpreters will be compensated for mileage but not for travel time.

5. The interpreter should have the completed Request for Payment form, SCCA/263, ready to be signed by the judge at the completion of the hearing, trial, or plea.  It may be necessary for the clerk of court to be a conduit between the judge and the interpreter in order to obtain the judge’s signature.

6. The clerk of court should mail the original or a certified true copy of these forms to Court Administration.

7. The clerk of court should retain a copy or the original of these forms for the court’s record.

The amount of payment that the court interpreter will receive is set by the May 20, 2004 order of the Chief Justice ($25.00 per hour for non-certified foreign language interpreters, $45.00 per hour for certified foreign language interpreters, and $45.00 for deaf/sign language).  The Judicial Department will not compensate for amounts in excess of the rates set forth by the order of the Chief Justice.  Any fee incurred from the services provided by the interpreter that exceeds the amounts per hour set forth by the above referenced order will be the responsibility of the County.

According to www.merriam-webster.com, the definition of guideline is outline of policy.  Therefore, the clerks of court have been provided with a series of steps followed in a regular definite order of a definite course or method of action selected from among alternatives and in light of given conditions to guide and determine present and future decisions with respect to court interpreters. What does that mean? It should mean that since the Judicial Branch made the effort and spent resources in creating a policy of a method of action to secure court interpreters, individual county clerks of court should implement that procedure. In order to provide due process for limited English proficient people, all officers of the court must adhere to best standard practices. 

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