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April 15, 2013
Amendments to the Florida Rules for Certification and Regulation of Court Interpreters

The Court Interpreter Certification Board (the Board) has filed a petition with the Florida Supreme Court proposing amendments to the Florida Rules for Certification and Regulation of Court Interpreters. The amendments are in response to the Commission on Trial Court Performance and Accountability’s November 2010 Recommendations for the Provision of Court Interpreting Services in Florida’s Trial Courts, at 26, which suggested rule amendments may be needed in order to: (1) encourage interpreters to become certified; (2) strengthen the provision of court interpreting services; (3) better assist judges in ensuring the most qualified interpreters are selected for court proceedings; and (4) eliminate the disparity and variance in standards that currently apply to state certified interpreters versus duly qualified interpreters and other lesser skilled individuals.

The Court invites all interested persons to comment on the proposed amendments, which are reproduced in full below, as well as online at http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/proposed.shtml. All comments must be filed with the Court on or before May 15, 2013, with a certificate of service verifying that a copy has been served on the Board Chair, Ronald N. Ficarrotta, 401 North Jefferson Street, Room 122, Tampa, Florida, ficarrrn@fljud13.org, as well as a separate request for oral argument if the person filing the comment wishes to participate in oral argument, which may be scheduled in this case. The Board Chair has until June 5, 2013, to file a response to any comments filed with the Court. If filed by an attorney in good standing with The Florida Bar, the comment must be electronically filed via the Portal in accordance with In re: Electronic Filing in the Supreme Court of Florida via the Florida Courts E-Filing Portal, Fla. Admin. Order No. AOSC13-7 (Feb 18, 2013). If filed by a non-lawyer or a lawyer not licensed to practice in Florida, the comment must be electronically filed via e-mail in accordance with In re Mandatory Submission of Electronic Copies of Documents, Fla. Admin. Order No. AOSC04-84 (Sept. 13, 2004). Electronically filed documents must be submitted in Microsoft Word 97 or higher. Any person unable to submit a comment electronically must mail or hand-deliver the originally signed comment to the Florida Supreme Court, Office of the Clerk, 500 South Duval Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1927; no additional copies are required or will be accepted.

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF FLORIDA

IN RE: AMENDMENTS TO THE FLORIDA RULES FOR CERTIFICATION AND REGULATION OF COURT INTERPRETERS, CASE NO. SC13-304

FLORIDA RULES FOR CERTIFICATION AND REGULATION
OF
SPOKEN LANGUAGE COURT INTERPRETERS
PART I. GENERAL PROVISIONS

Rule 14.100. Definitions

(a) Certified Court Interpreter. An interpreter who has completed the mandatoryall requirements as defined by these rules andfor certification in accordance with these rules and holds a valid certificate as a certified court interpreter issued by the Office of the State Courts Administrator and is named in the registry of certified court interpreters maintained by the Office of the State Courts Administrator.

(b) Language Skilled. A designation reserved for interpreters who have completed all requirements in accordance with these rules, but who are seeking certification in a spoken language for which there is no state-certifying examination, such persons holding a valid certificate issued by the Office of the State Courts Administrator.

(c) Provisionally Approved. A designation reserved for interpreters of spoken languages for which a state-certifying examination is available, who, although not yet certified, have passed the oral performance exam at a lesser qualifying prescribed level and hold a valid certificate issued by the Office of the State Courts Administrator.

(d) Duly Qualified Interpreter. An interpreter who has obtained a passing grade on a written examination, who has attended a two-day orientation program offered by the Office of the State Courts Administrator, who is familiar with Part III of these rules, and who has an understanding of basic legal terminology in both languages is certified or language skilled, or, if a certified or language skilled interpreter is unavailable, a provisionally approved interpreter, as these terms are defined under sections (a) through (c) above.

(ce) Board. The Court Interpreter Certification Board.

(f) Compliance Period. The two-year period beginning upon official designation as a certified, language skilled, or provisionally approved court interpreter.

(dg) Court. Any county, circuit or district court of this state or the Supreme Court of Florida.

(h) State-Certifying Examination. A full or abbreviated board-approved oral performance examination designed to objectively measure whether candidates possess the minimum levels of language knowledge and fluency and interpreting skills required to perform competently during court proceedings.

(i) Written Examination. An initial qualifying or screening examination designed to measure a candidate’s literacy in English, familiarity with, and usage of, court-related terms, and/or knowledge of matters regarding interpreter ethics and related professional conduct.

(j) Full Oral Performance Examination. An oral examination which measures language knowledge and fluency in both English and non-English languages, as well as the ability to successfully render meaning in target and source languages in simultaneous interpretation, consecutive interpretation, and sight translation of documents.

(k) Abbreviated Oral Performance Examination. An oral examination assessing functional proficiency to competently interpret simultaneously in court from English to a non-English language, and prerequisite to which candidates must satisfy board-approved oral proficiency interviews in both English and non-English languages.

(l) Oral Proficiency Interview. A standardized language proficiency interview assessing functional speaking ability in both English and non-English languages.

(m) Modes of Court Interpretation. Simultaneous interpretation, consecutive interpretation, and sight translation of documents in a court setting.


Rule 14.110. Court Interpreter Certification Board

(a) Board Composition. The Court Interpreter Certification Board is created to supervise the certificationa process by which interpreters may become certified or otherwise duly qualified, and in accordance with which the conduct of all court-appointed persons engaged in foreignspoken language interpreting in the courts shall be governed. The board shall be under the supervisory authority of the Supreme Court of Florida. It shall be comprisedcomposed of ten persons, appointed by the chief justice, as follows:
    (1) two county court judges;
    (2) three circuit court judges;
    (3) three trial court administrators; and
    (4) twoone federally certified court interpreters; and
    (5) one state certified court interpreter.

    (b) - (d) [No Change]

    (e) Terms. The initial terms of the board members shall be as follows:

    (1) One year: a judicial member, a trial court administrator and an interpreter member;

        (2) Two years: two judicial members and a trial court administrator; and
    (3) Three years: two judicial members, a trial court administrator and an interpreter member.

    Following the initial terms, aAll terms shall be three years. Members shall be eligible for reappointment.

    (f) Duties. The duties of the board shall include:

    (1) thecertification, regulation, discipline, suspension, and revocation of certification of court interpreters;
      (2) designation, regulation, and discipline of language skilled and provisionally approved court interpreters, as well as suspension and revocation of designation upon failure to become certified within prescribed time frames;
        (3) regulation and discipline of court-appointed interpreters who, although neither certified nor otherwise qualified in accordance with these rules, are permitted to provide court interpreting services when a certified, language skilled, or provisionally approved interpreter is unavailable;
          (24) the authority to periodically review and adopt rules governing itsnew or amended board operating procedures consistent with these rules; and

          (35) the authority to make recommendations to the supreme court regarding language access issues and the amendment of thesecourt rules relating to provision of spoken language court interpreting services; and

          (6) performance of such other assignments relating to provision of spoken language court interpreting services as may be directed by the chief justice of the supreme court.

          (g) Fees. The board shall have the authority to recommend to the supreme court such fees as the board may deem necessary to permit it to carry out its duties, including, but not limited to, orientation fees, examination fees, application fees, and renewal fees, and late fees. All such fees shall be made payable to the State of Florida and shall be non-refundable.

          (h) Records; Registry. The board shall maintain records and minutes of its meetings and all other official actions. It shall also maintain a record of all continuing education hours or credits earned by certified, language skilled, and provisionally approved court interpreters. It shall also maintain a registryseparate registries containing the names, addresses, dates of certification, identificationdesignation number, renewal date, and geographic areas where services are available for each officially-designated court interpreter.

          (i) [No Change]

          PART II. INTERPRETER CERTIFICATION­DESIGNATIONS

          Rule 14.200. Qualification

          (a) Exclusive Designations. Individuals providing court interpreting services shall be designated certified court interpreters, language skilled, or provisionally approved upon qualifying in accordance with these rules. As a descriptive term employed in relation to the provision of court interpreting services, “duly qualified” refers exclusively to those persons who are certified or language skilled, or, if a certified or language skilled interpreter is unavailable, a provisionally approved interpreter.

          (b) General Prerequisites. Unless otherwise provided, all applicants completing prerequisites for certificationany of the three official state-level court interpreter designations must:

          (a1) as an initial prerequisite, attend a two-day orientation program administered by the Office of the State Courts Administrator or board-approved training provider;

          (b2) pass a written examination approved by the board, which shall include an ethics component;

          (c3) pass an oral proficiency examination approved by the board, unless they qualify for waiver of the examination requirement pursuant to rule 14.210submit an approved reporting form documenting completion of 20 hours of courtroom observation;

          (d4) take an oath to uphold the Code of Professional Conduct adopted in these rules;
            (e5) undergo and pass a background check ifaccording to standards prescribed by the board and published in board operating procedures; and

            (f6) agree to obtain hours or16 credits of continuing education as determined by the board from a continuing education program approved pursuant to these rulesby the board; and

            (7) submit an application for certification, language skilled, or provisionally approved designation and enclose an initial application fee in an amount set by the supreme court.


            Rule 14.205. Certified Court Interpreter Designation

            (a) Preferred Appointment. The certified court interpreter designation represents the highest qualified state-level interpreter designation and shall be the preferred designation when selecting court-appointed interpreters, arranging for contractual interpreter services, and making staff hiring decisions.

            (b) Requirements. Applicants seeking designation as a certified court interpreter must:

            (1) pass a full oral performance examination approved by the board, unless qualifying for a waiver of the examination requirement under rule 14.210, or, in the event a full oral performance examination is unavailable, pass a board-approved abbreviated oral examination and demonstrate functional speaking ability in English and non-English languages through oral proficiency interviews as a prerequisite to taking the abbreviated examination and qualifying for certification;

            (2) meet all general prerequisites under rule 14.200; and

            (3) complete the process leading to designation within two years following the orientation required under rule 14.200(b)(1), unless extended by the board in exceptional circumstances.

            (c) Court-Employed Interpreters. Applicants who are selected as employee interpreters, but who are not certified at the time of court employment, shall become certified within one year of being employed in a court interpreting position. The one-year requirement may be modified by the board on a case-by-case basis, if necessary, only in exceptional circumstances.


            Rule 14.210. Waiver of Examination Requirement

            (a) Federal Certification. Upon presentation of proof satisfactory to the board, the oral proficiencyperformance examination requirement shall be waived for anyone holding a federal courts certificate which is issued by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts and whose name appears on the registry of federally certified interpreters. No other component of certification is waived by this rule.

            (b) Reciprocity. Upon presentation of proof satisfactory to the board, the examination requirement shall be waived for anyone who has passed an equivalent examination in another state, if in accordance with board-approved requisites.


            Rule 14.215. Language Skilled Designation

            (a) Preferred Appointment. The language skilled designation represents the highest qualified state-level interpreter designation next beneath full certification and shall be the preferred designation over non-designated interpreters when selecting court-appointed interpreters in the area of the language skilled individual’s linguistic expertise.

            (b) Requirements. Applicants skilled in a spoken language for which there is no state-certifying examination may seek designation as language skilled interpreters upon:

            (1) passing an approved oral proficiency interview in English and the non-English language as an assessment of functional speaking ability; and

            (2) meeting all general prerequisites under rule 14.200.

            (c) Conditional Designation. In the event a language-specific state-certifying examination becomes available, language skilled interpreters shall be required to take and pass the certifying examination within two years of notice of its availability. Failure to become certified within this two-year period shall result in loss of the language skilled designation, unless the board approves an extension in exceptional circumstances.


            Rule 14.220. Issuance of CertificateProvisionally Approved Designation

            Upon satisfactory completion of the specified requirements, the board shall issue a certificate which shall include an identification number and date of issue. Once issued, the certificate shall remain renewable unless suspended or revoked by the board.

            (a) Requirements. Individuals not yet certified in spoken languages for which a state-certifying examination is available, but who have taken the oral performance exam, may be designated as provisionally approved upon:

            (1) scoring a minimum 60 percent on each section of the oral exam and an overall 65 percent or greater;

            (2) meeting all general prerequisites under rule 14.200; and

            (3) completing the process leading to designation within two years following the orientation required under rule 14.200(b)(1), unless extended by the board in exceptional circumstances.

            (b) Loss of Designation. Following designation as a provisionally approved interpreter, if the interpreter fails to become certified within two years, or within one year if the individual is employed in a court interpreting position, the interpreter will forfeit the designation unless the board approves an extension in exceptional circumstances.


            Rule 14.225. Issuance of Certificates

            Upon satisfactory completion of the specified requirements, the board shall issue a certificate for each official designation which shall include an identification designation number and date of issue. Once issued, the certificate shall remain renewable unless suspended or revoked by the board.


            Rule 14.230. Renewal of Certificates

            (a) Renewal. Once issued, the certificate for certified court interpreters shall remain renewable unless suspended or revoked by the board. The language skilled designation may also be renewed conditioned upon continued unavailability of a state-certifying examination in the language for which this designation has been granted. Absent an extension of time granted only in exceptional circumstances, failure to become certified within two years, or one year for anyone employed in a court interpreting position, will result in forfeiture of a provisionally approved designation.

            (ab) Biennial Renewal Fee. Each certified and language skilled court interpreter shall pay a biennial renewal fee in an amount set by the supreme court. A certificate shall be suspended automatically upon non-payment, but shall be reinstated upon application to the board, accompanied by payment and made within 60 days of the date of suspension. Upon expiration of the 60-day grace period, any request for reinstatement must be made pursuant toin accordance with rule 14.450.

            (bc) Notification. The board shall notify all certified, language skilled, and provisionally approved court interpreters in writing of the expiration date of their certificates at least 90 days before such date. Notice shall be given by regular United States mail, directed to the last mailing address on file with the board.

            (cd) Continued Status in Exceptional Circumstances. If the board determines exceptional circumstances warrant an extension of time within which a language skilled or provisionally approved interpreter may obtain certification, the interpreter will not forfeit the respective designation during the period of extension. A language skilled or provisionally approved interpreter who is granted an extension must, in lieu of a biennial renewal fee and as a condition of maintaining formal designation, pay a fee in an amount proportionate to the time of extension.


            Rule 14.240. Continuing EducationMaintenance of Official Designation

            (a) Assignments. Each certified, language skilled, and provisionally approved court interpreter shall complete 20 law-related professional interpreting assignments, or a lesser number of assignments totaling no fewer than 40 hours, every two-year compliance period. Interpreters unable to complete this requirement because of a limited need for interpreting services in their language may be eligible, upon written request and board approval, for an extension of time or exemption. Officially designated state-level court interpreters who are employed by the courts in court interpreting positions may, in lieu of reporting discrete law-related professional assignments, provide proof of court employment and an affidavit averring compliance with this requirement.

            (ab) RequirementContinuing Education. Each certified, language skilled, and provisionally approved court interpreter shall earn 16hours or credits of continuing education credits as determined by the board every two-years compliance period. Application for approval of the continuing education credit shall be made in writing on a continuing education reporting form approvedfurnished by the board. The form shall be furnished at the same time as notification is mailed, andCertified and language skilled interpreters renewing official designation shall completed and returned completed forms to the board with submission of at the same time the renewal fees is submitted. Provisionally approved interpreters shall submit continuing education reporting forms to the board with applications for certification.

            (bc) Approved Programs. The board shall keep and maintain a list of approved continuing education programs. Approval of an educational program or activity not listed shall be at the board’s discretion and subject to approval on a case-by-case basis.

            PART III. CODE OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT

            Rule 14.300. Professional Conduct

            Each certified, language skilled, and provisionally approved court interpreter, as well as court-appointed individuals providing interpreting services because of the unavailability of officially designated state-level court interpreters, shall act in a professional manner in keeping with the Code of Professional Conduct as set forth herein. Failure to adhere to the Code may lead to disciplinary action. Disciplinary action is at the discretion of the board.
              PART IV. DISCIPLINE

              Rule 14.400. Suspension or Revocation of CertificationApplication

              A certificate issued pursuant to these rules may be suspended or revoked for any of the following reasons:

              (a) conviction of a felony or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude, dishonesty, or false statements;

              (b) fraud, dishonesty, or corruption which is related to the functions and duties of a court interpreter;

              (c) continued false or deceptive advertising after receipt of a cease and desist notice from the board;

              (d) gross incompetence or unprofessional or unethical conduct;

              (e) fraud or misrepresentation in obtaining or renewing certification;

              (f) noncompliance with continuing education requirements; or
                (g) nonpayment of renewal fees.

                Each certified, language skilled, and provisionally approved court interpreter, as well as court-appointed individuals providing spoken language interpreting services on a regular or recurring basis because of the unavailability of officially designated state-level court interpreters, shall be subject to the disciplinary provisions under this part.

                Disciplinary action may be undertaken against a court-appointed interpreter holding no official state-level designation only in circumstances suggesting intentional disregard for impartiality or fairness of the proceeding. A presumption of bias arises if, having been apprised of his or her role and having subsequently been cautioned by the court, an interpreter persists in altering or omitting statements made on the record or otherwise acts in a manner potentially prejudicing the proceeding.


                Rule 14.405. Suspension or Revocation

                A certificate issued pursuant toin accordance with these rules may be suspended or revoked for any of the following reasons:

                (a) - (d)

                (e) fraud or misrepresentation in obtaining or renewing certificationany state-level court interpreter designation;

                (f) noncompliance with rule provisions directing completion of law-related professional interpreting assignments or continuing education requirements; or
                  (g) nonpayment of renewal or late fees.


                  Rule 14.410. Disciplinary Procedures

                  (a) [No Change]

                  (b) Facial Sufficiency. If a majority of the investigative committee, after an in-person or conference call meeting, finds that the allegations, if true, would constitute a violation of these rules, it shall send a copy of the complaint identifying the rule or rules alleged to have been violated to the certified court interpreter by certified United States mail directed to the last mailing address on file with the board. If the complaint is found to be facially insufficient, the complaint shall be dismissed without prejudice and the complainant and interpreter shall be so notified.

                  (c) Response. Within 30 days of the issuance of a finding of facial sufficiency, the certified court interpreter shall file a written response with the investigative committee. If no response is filed, the violations identified in the finding of facial sufficiency shall be deemed admitted.
                    (d) – (e) [No Change]
                      (f) Hearing Panel Review. Within 60 days after the filing of the formal charges, the hearing panel shall review the complaint, the finding of probable cause, and the response, if any, and decide whether to (i) dismiss the proceeding, (ii) issue a proposed disposition, or (iii) set a hearing. The hearing panel shall promptly send written notice of its decision to the certified court interpreter and to the complainant by certified United States mail, return receipt requested.

                      (g) No Hearing Demanded. A proposed disposition issued pursuant to subdivision (f)(ii) shall become final unless the certified court interpreter demands a hearing within 30 days of the date on which it was issued.

                      (h) Hearing Demanded. If the certified court interpreter demands a hearing in a timely manner, the hearing shall take place no less than 30 days nor
                      more than 90 days from the date of notice pursuant to subdivision (f)(iii) or of the court interpreter’s demand pursuant to subdivision (g).

                      (i) Legal Representation. The certified court interpreter may be represented by an attorney at any stage of the proceeding. The court interpreter shall be responsible for all of his or her costs and expenses, including attorney’s fees.

                        Rule 14.420. Disciplinary Hearings

                        (a) - (c) [No Change]

                        (d) Hearing Procedure. At the hearing, both the hearing panel and the certified court interpreter shall be afforded the opportunity to introduce documents and other relevant evidence, and to elicit sworn testimony.

                        (e) [No change]

                        (f) Finality of Decision; Rehearing. Unless the certified court interpreter files a request for rehearing within 30 days of the date of the decision, the decision shall become final without further action. If a timely request for rehearing is filed, the decision shall not become final until the request has been disposed of by
                        written decision, a copy of which shall be sent to the certified court interpreter by certified United States mail.

                          Rule 14.430. Disciplinary Dispositions

                          (a) Burden of Proof. If the hearing panel finds that there is clear and convincing evidence that the certified court interpreter has violated one or more of these rules, it shall impose such discipline as it may deem appropriate, consistent with these rules.

                          (b) Vote Required; Notification. All decisions of the hearing panel shall be by majority vote, in writing and, if adverse to the certified court interpreter, shall contain factual findings supporting the decision. A copy of the decision shall be sent to the certified court interpreter by certified United States mail.

                          (c) Sanctions. Sanctions may consist of one or more of the following:

                          (1) - (4) [No Change]

                              (5) a requirement that specified continuing education courses and/or additional law-related professional interpreting assignments be taken completed within a specified period of time;

                              (6) - (8) [No Change]

                              (9) suspension of certificationofficial state-level designation for a period not to exceed 1one year; or

                              (10) revocation of certificationofficial state-level designation.


                          Rule 14.440. Confidentiality of Disciplinary Proceedings

                          When a disciplinary proceeding is either dismissed or results in a private reprimand, all records of the proceedingAll complaints alleging misconduct against individuals subject to disciplinary action under these rules, including the interpreter’s response, if any, and all other records made or received as part of the complaint procedure, are exempt from public disclosure under rule 2.420(c)(3)(B), Florida Rules of Judicial Administration, and shall remain confidential until a finding of probable cause or no probable cause is established; otherwise, all such records shall become public when the hearing panel’s decision becomes final, regardless of the outcome of any appeal.

                          Rule 14.450. Reinstatement

                          A certified court interpreter whose certificate has been suspended or revoked may, at any time, apply in writing for reinstatement. Such request shall explain why the applicant believes that he or she should be reinstated, and shall be accompanied by a renewal fee in an amount set by the board. Whether to grant or to deny such a request shall rest in the sole and absolute discretion of the board. The board may impose such conditions upon reinstatement as it deems appropriate.

                          [Revised: 11-26-2014]