Florida Courts Want More Funds To Get More Interpreters In Courtrooms

Oct 13, 2017
Originally published on October 12, 2017 7:43 pm

Florida’s court system is asking the state legislature for more than $8.5 million to get more interpreters in the courtroom.

A few years ago, Florida lawmakers gave the state courts about 100-thousand dollars to do a “Video Remote Interpreting” pilot in a handful of the state’s 20 judicial circuits. Now, State courts administrator Patricia Jameson says officials want to expand the program that utilizes their court interpreters.

“If we have the courtrooms equipped with the technology for this to happen, we can link up a court interpreter that’s in Orlando to a courtroom, let’s say, in the Panhandle,” said Jameson. “And, that’s a better use on the court interpreter’s time, we can use them more hours that day, saves them the travel, and the loss of time with that as well.”

Jameson says one major problem the courts are having is meeting the constitutional requirement of having enough interpreters in the courtroom.

“We are running really high vacancy rates in court interpreters, and that’s because the pay is just not competitive,” she added. “We have a base pay of, I believe, $43,000 a year for court interpreters. And, we just can’t hire them. If you look at the list of positions open more than 180 days, you’ll see the majority of them are for interpreters.”

So, Jameson says retaining court interpreters and expanding the video remote interpreting project will be huge priorities for the courts, during the 2018 legislative session.

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