Interpretation and Translation Resources for the Criminal Justice System

Criminal Justice Resources

Ken Strutin (JD, MLS) is an experienced law librarian, criminal defense attorney, and well-known writer and speaker. He is the author of The Insider’s Guide: Criminal Justice Resources on the Internet, and has lectured extensively about the benefits of using the Internet for legal research at national and local CLE training programs. Mr. Strutin also wrote ALI-ABA’s Practice Checklist Manual on Representing Criminal Defendants, and co-authored the award winning Legal Research Methodology computer tutorial, published by the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI). He has contributed chapters to several books and written many articles concerning knowledge management, legal research and criminal law. Mr. Strutin has taught courses in Advanced Legal Research and Law Office Management. He is also listed in Who’s Who in American Law. Currently, Mr. Strutin is the Director of Legal Information Services at the New York State Defenders Association and writes a column for the New York Law Journal.

This bibliography contains resources concerning the interpretation of criminal and related proceedings for non-English speakers or people with limited English proficiency (LEP). It begins with a review of translated legal publications, and then covers a broad range of web sources on court interpretation, best practices, and related issues.

Foreign Language Publications & Websites Federal and State Court Interpreter Programs Reference Sources
Directories and Services Court Interpreter Associations
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Resources Guides for Working With Interpreters
Ethics and Standards Courses and Programs

Foreign Language Publications, Websites, and Referrals

An attorney or judge plays a role in informing and enlightening the accused, witnesses and jurors about the nature of the process they are participating in. Some courts and government agencies have already embarked on ambitious publishing programs to produce materials for non-English speakers. These publications range from flash cards, identifying a communicant’s native language, to multilingual glossaries, court forms, and handbooks.

Flash Cards


  • Federal Citizen Information Center
    This is a collection of publications and websites concerning federal benefits and other programs in more than a dozen languages. It includes glossaries for terms in particular areas of law.
  • Federal Court System in the US (US Courts)
    This guide to the structure and operation of the federal court system is published in English, French, Italian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish and Turkish.

    The Center publishes extensive summaries of news items about claims of actual innocence and wrongful conviction of death row inmates, and related developments.
  • FirstGov en Espanol ( US )
    FirstGov is a gateway site to millions of web pages containing federal and state government information, services and resources. This is the Spanish language version.
  • Guide to Naturalization (USCIS)
    The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services publishes a handbook on the naturalization process in
    English, Spanish, Tagalog, Chinese, and Vietnamese. More information about these works, and lists of additional publications are available on their website.
  • FirstGov en Espanol ( US )
    FirstGov is a gateway site to millions of web pages containing federal and state government information, services and resources. This is the Spanish language version.
  • Guide to Naturalization (USCIS)
    The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services publishes a handbook on the naturalization process in
    English, Spanish, Tagalog, Chinese, and Vietnamese. More information about these works, and lists of additional publications are available on their website.
  • Improving Access to Services for Persons With Limited English Proficiency (DOJ)
    This site describes the resources for implementation of Executive Order 13166, “Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency.” The Executive Order requires Federal agencies to examine the services they provide, identify any need for services to those with limited English proficiency (LEP), and develop and implement a system to provide those services so LEP persons can have meaningful access to them.
  • Interpreters Office of the Southern District of New York (SDNY)
    This is a rich collection of resources for interpreters and translators working in the federal court system.
  • Let Everyone Participate
    This website provides information about federal government agencies and programs designed to give meaningful access to people with limited English proficiency.
  • Supreme Court Publications (US Supreme Court)
    The Supreme Court has prepared guides for visitors and others interested in learning about its function and history. Visitor guides are available in Chinese, French, German, Japanese Russian, and Spanish.


  • Bi-lingual Resources for Court Officials (NC)
    The North Carolina Court system has created Spanish language versions of commonly used court forms and documents.
  • Criminal Justice System Handbook (NYS Unified Court System)
    This is a guide to the operations of the criminal justice system in New York State . It provides explanations of procedures and definitions of terms common to the criminal process. And it is available in three languages: French, Korean and Spanish.
  • Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual in Spanish (NY)
    The Manual is published by the Columbia Human Rights Law Review (CHRLR) and covers legal research, criminal appeals, post-conviction remedies, and issues regarding conditions of confinement and prisoners’ rights. The English version of the Manual is fully available online. In 2005, the CHRLR published the 6th edition of this popular work, and produced the first Spanish edition.
  • ( US )
    This is a collection of links to self-help legal aid resources on civil and criminal topics. The links are organized by state, and some sites provide “Resources in Other Languages” ranging from Arabic to Urdu.
  • Tennessee Law Court Forms (TN)
    This is a collection of official court forms, notices, petitions and affidavits used in the Tennessee Courts. They are available in the following languages: Arabic, Kurdish, Laotian, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese.

Criminal Justice


< Table of Contents>

Directories and Services

Interpreters and translators can be found through directories published by the courts and private membership associations. There are also independent companies that specialize in this work and offer phone-based interpretation.


Private Companies

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Resources

The interpretation needs of persons who are deaf or hard of hearing are collected here across all categories.

< Table of Contents>

Ethics and Standards

Professional associations and the courts have developed rules of ethics and standards for court interpretation. The key federal statute and model act governing the use and conduct of court interpreters are noted below.

Model Act and Federal Statute

Model and Association Codes

Federal and State Ethics Codes

Ethics Opinions


< Table of Contents>

Federal and State Court Interpreter Programs

Government agencies and the court systems have published information on the availability of interpreter and translation services, certification and testing, court rules, oaths, codes of ethics, ethics opinions, glossaries, handbooks and other resources. Here are the links to selected court web pages of government sites with significant collections.



o Arkansas

o California

o Colorado

o District of Columbia

o Idaho

o Iowa

o Massachusetts

o Minnesota

o New Jersey

o New York

o North Carolina

o Utah

Court Interpreter Associations

Professional associations are excellent resources. They provide, among other services, access to directories, reference books in foreign languages, networking opportunities, newsletters, continuing education, codes of conduct, certification requirements and classes, and more.

Guides for Working With Interpreters

Interpreters, attorneys and judges have developed checklists and guidelines for maximizing communication in court with non-English or limited English proficiency people.

o AUSA Checklist for Working With Interpreters

o How Judges Can Promote Flawless Interpretation

o For Attorneys: Examining Witnesses Through an Interpreter

o Translations

< Table of Contents>

Courses and Programs

Certification and basic educational requirements are discussed on most court interpreter websites. The associations usually list continuing education and advanced training sessions, along with references to courses offered at local colleges. Here are a few educational resources for interpreters and translators nationwide.

Reference Sources

Among the resources already noted, there are an abundance of bibliographies, books and articles on key issues in legal interpreting and translation.

Current Awareness and Periodicals



o § 1.45 G. Dealing With Interpreters in Court

o § 1.46 1. Right to an Interpreter in Criminal Proceedings

o § 1.47 2. Using an Interpreter in Court

o Chapter 2: Using Interpreters ·



o Court Interpreters in Attacking Bias in the Justice System (ABA)

o Report From the Front Lines: Multilingual Training-of-Trainers for Refugee Interpreters (ACEBO)

Law Enforcement

State Reports

o Report to the Legislature on the Use of Interpreters in the California Courts (CA 2004)

o Family Law Interpreter Pilot Program (FLIPP): Report to the Legislature (CA 2001)

o Report on Interpreter Services in the Vermont Courts

o Use of Interpreters Instructions , Florida Bar News, December 15, 2005


Internet Resources

Internet Resources

o Competitive Procurement of the Spanish/English Interpreter Certification Program

o Court Interpreter Technical Assistance

o State Court Interpreter Certification Consortium

o State Interpreter Contracts

Posted in: Court Resources, Criminal Law, Family Law