It is the intention of the New Hampshire Judicial Branch to provide interpreters for all limited English proficient (LEP) individuals who are litigants and witnesses in state court proceedings, who have a significant interest in such proceedings, or who seek access to court records and information. Interpretation services are for communication with the clerk’s office, in-court proceedings and hearings and not for private communication with attorneys outside the courthouse. These services are critical to the fair and meaningful access to justice for individuals who are not fluent in English and are provided at no cost.
The current New Hampshire Judicial Branch Language Services Plan adopted by the court on November 2, 2020, describes the policies and procedures that currently exist and those contemplated to provide language services to these individuals. In addition, in December 2013 the Court adopted the New Hampshire Judicial Branch Code of Professional Responsibility for Interpreters. The document outlines the expected standard of conduct interpreters must comply with.
- Formulario de queja sobre servicios de interpretación (Spanish)
- Formulaire de plainte concernant les services d'interprétation (French)
Am I entitled to an interpreter when I go to Court?
If you are a litigant, witness, or have a significant interest in a case, as determined by a judge, you are entitled to an interpreter if : (1) English is not your primary language and you have difficulty communicating effectively in English; or (2) you are deaf or hard of hearing.
How do I let the Court know I need an interpreter?
The best way is to contact the court to request an interpreter as far in advance of the hearing as possible. You can call the Information Center at 1-855-212-1234 and a Judicial Branch staff member will be able to have an interpreter assist with the phone call. You can identify the case you have in the court and request an interpreter.
You can also go to the Clerk’s Office at the Court where your hearing is being held and request an interpreter. Again, requesting an interpreter before the court date helps to make certain an interpreter will be available.
Will the Court have an interpreter that speaks my language?
Once the Court knows of the primary language you speak, it will undertake all efforts to obtain an interpreter in your primary language to provide you with assistance. It can be difficult to find interpreters for certain dialects so requesting the interpreter in advance is of great assistance.
Will I have to pay for the interpreter?
No, if you are a litigant, witness, or have a significant interest in the case, as determined by a judge, you will be provided an interpreter free of charge for in-court hearings.
Can an interpreter help me complete forms that I have to give to the court?
If you come to the courthouse, the clerk’s office can provide basic assistance with completing the forms and will be able to have an interpreter available by telephone to translate. However, if you need detailed assistance with your case, you will have to utilize someone outside of the court system to assist you.
Can a family member or friend interpret for me in court?
No, if you need an interpreter, the Court must make sure it is an independent translator who is trained to provide courtroom translation services. The Court will obtain the interpreter if you qualify for the service.
What assistance can I receive if I am deaf or hard of hearing?
If you are a litigant, witness, or person with a significant interest in a case, as determined by a judge, the Judicial Branch will provide interpreter services for deaf or hard of hearing. These services include American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters and CART services.
What does an interpreter do?
An interpreter is a trained professional who interprets completely and accurately what is said during a court proceeding from English into another language.
Will an interpreter give me legal advice?
No. If you need assistance with your case, you need to contact an attorney. The interpreter is an independent person hired by the Court.
If I want to make a complaint against an interpreter, how do I do so?
You can make a complaint with Mary Ann Dempsey, General Counsel and Acting Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts, 1 Granite Place, Suite N400, Concord, NH 03301. MDempsey@courts.state.nh.us
There is a complaint form to assist in that process located at: https://www.courts.nh.gov/sites/g/files/ehbemt471/files/documents/2021-04/nhjb-3038-aoc.pdf
Further questions about how to obtain an interpreter can be directed to the court where your case has been filed.