Criminal Defense of Immigrants


§ 4.17 (B)

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(B)  Telephonic Interpretation.  If the court-generated lists, and referrals by other attorneys or local state or federal defender offices do not suffice, counsel can contact telephonic or televideo language line services[49] or interpreter organizations via the internet.[50]  These services can provide quick access to an interpreter, and have extensive lists of languages covered.  They will not, however, usually guarantee a certified interpreter, often disclaim responsibility for errors committed by an interpreter, and may charge very high hourly rates (up to five times the cost of an in-person interpreter).  It may make most sense, therefore, to use them as a last resort for emergency situations or rare languages.  When a telephonic interpreter is used, great care should be taken to investigate the qualifications of the interpreter.


[49] AT & T Language Line ServiceTM, for example, provides access to interpreters in as many as 140 different languages, seven days a week. These interpreters are not necessarily certified interpreters.  For an in-depth discussion of issues arising from telephonic interpretation, see Grabau & Gibbons, Protecting the Rights of Linguistic Minorities: Challenges to Court Interpretation, 30 New England L. Rev. 227, 322 (1996).

[50] For a searchable database by language, location, and credentials, see the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT)  For online dictionaries and other re­sources, see The Translators Home Companion,; for interpreters for the deaf re­sources, see the Gallaudet University Interpreting Service Home Page at and the Registry for Interpreters for the Deaf home page at