The Critical Need for Spanish Language Interpreters with the Law


Spanish language interpreters often find themselves in the middle of court cases and instances that involve law officials throughout the country and people who speak Spanish. As Spanish interpreters, these professionals are true “tunnels of communication” in courtrooms between judges, juries and Spanish-speaking clients.

In New Jersey, for example, there are 40 judiciary language interpreters to ensure that when people walk into those facilities that they have the same access to justice as everyone else. Whether people come into the courts around the country for a legal name change, for a courthouse marriage or for court cases, a Spanish translation service should always be available.

The Most Requested Language for Interpretation

In the New Jersey court system, Spanish is the most-requested language for interpretation followed by Portuguese, Korean and Italian according to the judiciary’s 2013 statistics. In Camden County alone, more than 3,700 people through the year had requested Spanish language interpreters. MariPaz Russel, a Spanish language interpreter in New Jersey states, “You have to serve. You have to give access to LEP (limited English proficiency).” From July 2012 to June 2013, Russell and a second interpreter worked on more than 1,600 cases in Cumberland County, just under 300 in Salem County and 151 cases in Gloucester County.

It is crucial to the promise of justice that a Spanish interpreter service be available for legal matters. There have been two lawsuits filed by residents in Camden County claiming that they had no access to provided interpreters in court. “As an interpreter you have to make a split-second decision on what words you’re going to use because you really have the client’s life on your tongue,” Russell adds.

Near-Native Proficiency is Required

Potential judicial Spanish interpreters are rigorously tested on vocabulary and court-related terms, oral interpretation and more. They must have attended college for at least two years, and must also abide by an interpreters’ code of conduct. Language is ever-changing, so interpreters must keep up with pop culture references and slang, along with dialect. A word in one Spanish dialect might mean something completely different in another.

Language choice can change the course of a trial – which is precisely why Spanish translator services and Spanish language interpreters are so critical to dispensing justice in any interaction between judiciary systems, law enforcement personnel and Spanish-speaking clients.

Contact Us

Interpreters Unlimited provides legal interpreters and translators in New Jersey and throughout the entire United States. For more information about our legal services, send us a message or call 800-726-9891.