Language Access and Interpreter Services
The Court provides multilingual interpretation and general language services in court proceedings to ensure meaningful participation in the judicial court process for individuals with limited English proficiency. In doing so, the Court promotes equal access to justice to ensure that court procedures are fair and understandable for court users from diverse cultural backgrounds.
The Court provides bilingual staff at most Clerk’s Offices. When bilingual staff is not available, the Court provides telephonic interpreter assistance using the services of an outside language provider. The Court assigns qualified court interpreters in court proceedings at no cost in all mandated case types.
These mandated areas include:
- Juvenile Delinquency
- Juvenile Dependency
- Child Support (AB1058)
- Mental Health
In addition, the San Francisco Superior Court has recently expanded interpreter services to civil case types. We now provide a court interpreter at no cost as follows:
- Family Law Domestic Violence Cases
- Elder Abuse Cases
- Civil Harassment Cases
- Unlawful Detainer Cases
- Termination of Parental Rights Cases, and cases that involve custody or visitation of children
- Conservatorship and Guardianship Cases
- Other Civil Case Types
Commitment to Language Access
The San Francisco Superior Court is committed to expanding language access to all case types and will accept requests for interpreters for other civil case types not listed above. However, interpreter services for these civil case types will be subject to interpreter availability. Because there is a shortage of certified/registered interpreters statewide, the Court may sometimes provide a provisionally qualified interpreter (non-certified, non-registered).
Need an Interpreter?
Court interpreters are experts in language and are assigned to accurately interpret court proceedings. They are not parties to a case, have no interest in any case, and remain completely neutral in all matters. A court interpreter works for the court and does not represent any party. A court interpreter's sole responsibility is to bridge the communication barrier in order to provide limited English proficient users with access to Justice.
How to request an interpreter
If you need an interpreter, please email InterpreterRequests@sftc.org and provide the case name, case number, the language needed, date, location, and your contact information.
Parties involved in Criminal, Traffic, Juvenile, Civil or Family cases also may request the services of an interpreter from the Clerk’s office or the courtroom clerk. If an interpreter is not available at the time of the hearing, the Court may continue the case until an interpreter can be assigned.
All requests must be made in advance with as much notice as possible, and prior to the hearing (a minimum two-business day notice for Spanish and five (5) business days for all other languages).
Note: State law (EC § 756) http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=EVID§ionNum=756 has specified an order of priority for providing interpreters to civil litigants. We ask that you submit a request for interpreter services and allow us to make an effort to provide you with language assistance. If an interpreter cannot be provided by the Court, you may bring in your own certified, registered, or qualified interpreter.
To search for an interpreter in the State Judicial Branch online directory, visit:
Cancel an Interpreter
The Interpreter Services Division must be notified of any changes, continuances, or cancellations as soon as possible in order to avoid late-cancellation situations. To cancel an interpreter, please email InterpreterRequests@sftc.org or notify the clerk’s office or courtroom clerk prior to the hearing date.
How to become a Court Interpreter?
Learn more about California’s Court Interpreter Program (CIP) and how to become an interpreter by visiting http://www.courts.ca.gov/programs-interpreters.htm
Language Access in Court-Ordered Services
Under the new California Rule of Court 1.300, the court is working to make sure litigants are not ordered to complete outside programs that are not offered in the language the litigants speak proficiently.
If you are a justice partner or community provider you can use form LA-350 to inform the court of services provided, language available and types of language assistance. Complete the form and scan to our Language Access Coordinator at: email@example.com
These forms will be kept by the court to answer questions by court personnel regarding programs in our community and language capacity.
If you have been ordered to complete a program outside of court such as parenting classes or anger management and you cannot comply because you cannot find a program that speaks your language you can complete form:
This form will be filed in your case so the Judge can review it before your next court date.
Information and materials on Language Access in Court-Ordered Services:
Language Access Complaints
The Court wants all court users, including those who do not speak English well, to have access to the courts. If you would like to provide feedback or have a complaint about language access services at our Court, fill out and submit the complaint form.
Please be aware that the Language Access Coordinator does not have the authority to change or modify any decision made by a judicial officer and that its review of the complaint does not, in any way, affect or extend any applicable deadlines or procedural requirements such as filing motions, appeals, modifications, etc.
You may file a complaint with the Judicial Council of California regarding a specific California court interpreter if you believe a certified or registered interpreter:
- Violated Rule of Court 2.890, Professional conduct for interpreters
- Is unable to interpret competently in English and/or in the language being interpreted
- Committed acts of wrongdoing or behaved unethically
To file a complaint directly with the Judicial Council regarding a specific court interpreter, visit https://www.courts.ca.gov/42807.htm