All County Clerks and Summary Courts

FROM:     Desiree R. Allen, Program Manager

Clarification on the Utilization of Court Interpreters for Persons with
Limited English Proficiency (LEP) 


January 23, 2009

Court Administration is required by statute to maintain a centralized list of certified or otherwise qualified interpreters for use in Courts of South Carolina.  Court Administration initiated the South Carolina Court Interpreter Certification Program in 2007.   Spanish-speaking interpreters are the first group to be certified in this program.  The interpreters who have taken part in this program are committed to improving their skill level, which in turn increases the quality of interpreting services rendered in our courts.  Rule 511, Rules of Professional Conduct for Court Interpreters, was adopted by the Supreme Court on June 21, 2006.  A copy of the Rule is included as an attachment.  We are writing to clarify the issues that have arisen since this program has been in place in an effort to continue to improve the quality of interpreting services rendered in our courts.   This applies to interpreters used in court, not for interpreters used for trial preparation, or in settings outside the courtroom.

Please make every effort to contact and use first certified interpreters, then otherwise qualified interpreters for cases involving non-English speaking persons.   These interpreters are identified in the list provided by this office.  If a certified interpreter is not available, you should use an interpreter who is otherwise qualified.  These otherwise qualified interpretersare the interpreters who have successfully completed Phase I and/or Phase II of the Interpreter Certification Program.  The only exception to using an interpreter not on the list would be if there is not one available, and the interpreter you want to use meets the requirements of SC Code Sections 15-27-155(B) or 17-1-50(A)(4) and submits a sworn affidavit to the Court specifying his or her qualifications before they are appointed.  This document should be forwarded to Court Administration as well.   We have more than 200 certified or otherwise qualified interpreters on the centralized list and don’t anticipate that there will be a need for many exceptions.  We will assist you in locating a certified or otherwise qualified interpreter in your area if you contact this office prior to the hearing.  

Please instruct staff to cancel the interpreter appointment if their services will not be needed.  The Judicial Department is required to pay for interpreter services rendered and not for cancellations and waiting time for interpreters.    We encourage the use of telephonic non-English speaking interpreters in the Summary Courts, when possible.   Please see the Supreme Court Order dated February 10, 2003.  It is also attached.  

The forms to be used for interpreter services consist of an Order of Appointment, Request for Payment, and Interpreter Timesheet (SCCA 262, 263, and 264). They must be signed by the judge and interpreter, then reviewed by court staff and mailed directly to Court Administration from the court upon completion of the court proceedings.   The forms are available for download on the Judicial Department website at www.sccourts.org/forms

Please distribute this memo to all members of your staff who have duties relating to court interpreters.    If you have questions concerning interpreters, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.  Thank you for your cooperation. 

CC:       Rosalyn W. Frierson, Director
Mary S. Schroeder, Deputy Director


S.C. Code 1976, Section 15-27-15
S.C. Code 1976, Section 15-27-155
S.C. Code 1976, Section 17-1-50
Supreme Court Order – June 21, 2006
Supreme Court Order – August 3, 2006
Supreme Court Order – February 10, 2003