The Utah Judicial Council, the governing body for the courts, recently published for public comment a rule change that represents the largest expansion of the court interpretation program in its 20-year history.
As a charter member of the National Consortium for Language Access to the Courts, a voluntary collection of state courts, Utah was a leader in the effort to provide language interpretation to people who do not understand English. The Judicial Council adopted national standards to license language interpreters, and for many years the Judicial Council has provided and partially paid for classes designed to help interpreters meet those standards.
The Utah courts appoint highly qualified interpreters on a routine basis. For the past three years, more than 95 percent of all Spanish interpretation in the courts of record was done by interpreters with the highest qualifications. Languages other than Spanish are not needed as frequently, but every year the courts appoint interpreters in about 50 languages from Albanian to Zigula, providing a significant benefit to the court at little or no cost to the person needing the interpreter.