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Court interpreters face growing workload - America, Dec 2005

By Lys Mendez and David Olson

Although the number of cases in the circuit needing court interpreters has increased by 18.7 percent during the past fiscal year, it looks as though full-time interpreters will have to wait for reinforcements, probably until 2007. The court is using more contractors for less-used languages, which can range from Creole to obscure African dialects, in an effort to manage the load.

"We have no more job openings. And we do have more cases, more load as interpreters," said Augustín De La Mora, coordinator for the Department of Interpreters of the 9th Judicial Circuit. "But for the time being, we don't know if we are going to get them."

In the meantime, the lack of court interpreters limits their use to criminal cases and to cases of restraining orders, according to De La Mora.

In July 2003, a revision to the judicial process of Florida called "Revision 7" transferred the budget for interpreters from the counties to the state under the management of the Office of the State Courts Administrator in Tallahassee. For this reason, many long trials must be rescheduled or proceedings must halt until the interpreter arrives.