DELAWARE COURT INTERPRETERS PROGRAM CELEBRATES 10TH ANNIVERSARY
The Delaware Court Interpreters Program celebrated 10 years of service to the public and the Delaware Judiciary in April 2006. The program started in April 1996 as a result of the Delaware Supreme Court’s Racial and Ethnic Fairness Task Force Study (issued in October 1996). The Task Force identified a need for interpreters in the Delaware Courts to become certified through training and testing and for a list of qualified interpreters to be maintained by the Administrative Office of the Courts. Delaware joined the Consortium of State Court Interpreter Certification that year and began the process of recruiting, training and testing of all interpreters who practice in the Delaware Courts.
The Consortium was founded in 1995 for the purpose of assisting state courts in developing interpreter certification programs and is a project of the National Center for State Courts, in Williamsburg, Virginia. Today 35 states are members of the Consortium, and Delaware’s Court Interpreter Program Manager, Franny Haney, serves as the Chair of the Consortium for a second consecutive year.
The Delaware program annually conducts orientation and a skills building workshop for prospective interpreters in addition to testing in a variety of languages. Currently there are 12 Spanish interpreters and one Russian interpreter who have achieved the highest level of certification (Consortium certified). There are also 16 Spanish interpreters, one Haitian Creole and two Russian interpreters who have achieved the second level of certification (Delaware certified). The Delaware Certified Interpreters are only certified to interpret in Delaware. There are interpreters eligible to interpret in Delaware Courts but who are uncertified (have completed orientation but either have not successfully completed the certification process or interpret in a language for which there is currently no testing or certification available). Those interpreters provide services in the following languages: Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, Danish, French, Haitian Creole, German, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Farsi, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, as well as interpreters for the deaf.
The Delaware program has an Advisory Board which sets policy for the program. Judge Aida Waserstein of Family Court is the chair of the Advisory Board and members consist of Judge Calvin Scott of Superior Court, Chief Judge Alex J. Smalls of the Court of Common Pleas, Judge Robert C. Lopez and Judge Jana Mollohan of the Justice of the Peace Court, and Maria Perez Chambers, a Consortium Certified Interpreter in Delaware. Franny Haney of the Administrative Office of the Courts serves as staff to the Advisory Board.
The Delaware Court Program is proud of its success to date and looks forward to expanding the program, as well as increasing the number of certified interpreters, in the years to come.