THE SUPREME COURT’S COURT INTERPRETER CERTIFICATION BOARD submits for comment its draft proposed amendments to the Florida Rules for Certification and Regulation of Court Interpreters.
Proposed revisions will restructure spoken language court interpreter designations based on increasing levels of accomplishment under testing measuring essential interpreting skills. Expanding the number of designations from two to three, revised provisions will afford an expressed preference for “certified” interpreters over others meeting a lesser threshold of eligibility. New “language skilled” and “provisionally approved” designations will replace the current “duly qualified” designation. The “language skilled” designation will be reserved for individuals who, but for unavailability of a state-certifying examination in their language of expertise, meet all other requirements for certification. The “provisionally approved” designation recognizes individuals demonstrating interpreting skills on an oral performance examination at a prescribed level insufficient for certification, but higher than presently required of “duly qualified” interpreters. Retained reference to “qualified” or “duly qualified” interpreters is limited to general or collective reference only to individuals who are “certified,” “language skilled,” or “provisionally approved.” Though impacting appointment of interpreters under Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.560(e), as applied, the proposed change would appear to exert no compelling or immediate cause to modify this or any other rule or statutory provision referencing qualified or duly qualified interpreters.
The proposed changes plainly encourage spoken language court interpreters to become certified and promote ongoing development of essential skills. Toward that end, provisionally approved interpreters would be expected to pass a state-certifying examination and become certified within two years. Persons newly employed by the state courts system in court interpreting positions must become certified within one year of their hire date. Similarly, language skilled interpreters will be required to pass a state-certifying examination within two years of such examination becoming available in the language of their expertise. In order to maintain official designation under the proposed rule, all interpreters will be required, in the course of a two-year compliance period, to complete 40 hours of law-related professional interpreting services and 16 credit hours of continuing education.
Further, the proposal will extend required compliance with the court interpreter code of professional conduct to all persons providing court interpreting services, irrespective of any official designation. Similarly, the proposed revision will make disciplinary provisions applicable to all state-level interpreter designations, as well as persons without official designation who are regularly appointed by the courts to provide interpreting services.
Consistent with recommendations of the Commission on Trial Court Performance & Accountability, the board anticipates changes encouraging interpreter certification will benefit persons in need of spoken language interpreting services and facilitate the ability of the courts to capably administer these services statewide.
Proposed new and revised rule provisions relate to the following:
PART I. GENERAL PROVISIONS
14.100 Definitions. [AMENDED]
14.110 Court Interpreter Certification Board. [AMENDED]
PART II. INTERPRETER DESIGNATIONS
14.200 Qualification. [AMENDED]
14.205 Certified Court Interpreter Designation. [NEW RULE]
14.210 Waiver of Examination Requirement. [AMENDED]
14.215 Language Skilled Designation. [NEW RULE]
14.220 Provisionally Approved Designation. [NEW RULE]
14.225 Issuance of Certificates. (formerly 14.220) [AMENDED]
14.230 Renewal of Certificates. [AMENDED]
14.240 Maintenance of Official Designation. (re-titled) [AMENDED]
PART III. CODE OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT
14.300 Professional Conduct. [AMENDED]
14.310 Accuracy and Completeness. [NO CHANGE]
14.320 Representation of Qualifications. [NO CHANGE]
14.330 Impartiality and Avoidance of Conflict of Interest. [NO CHANGE]
14.340 Confidentiality and Restriction of Public Comment. [NO CHANGE]
14.350 Professional Demeanor. [NO CHANGE]
14.360 Scope of Practice. [NO CHANGE]
14.470 Assessing and Reporting Impediments to Performance. [NO CHANGE]
14.380 Duty to Repot Ethical Violations. [NO CHANGE]
14.390 Professional Development. [NO CHANGE]
PART IV. DISCIPLINE
14.400 Application. [NEW RULE]
14.405 Suspension or Revocation. (formerly 14.400) [AMENDED]
14.410 Disciplinary Procedures. [AMENDED]
14.420 Disciplinary Hearings. [AMENDED]
14.430 Disciplinary Dispositions. [AMENDED]
14.440 Confidentiality of Disciplinary Proceedings. [AMENDED]
14.450 Reinstatement. [AMENDED]
14.460 Chief Justice Review. [NO CHANGE]
The board invites all interested persons to comment on the proposal reproduced in full below. Comments must be received by the board either in an electronic format or in hard copy not later than January 31, 2013. The board will review all comments and consider suggested changes before submitting its proposal to the Florida Supreme Court.
Please email your comments, including any attachments in a Word format, to [email protected]. Comments submitted by regular mail should be directed to the board at the following address:
Court Interpreter Certification Board
Supreme Court Building
500 South Duval Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399
FLORIDA RULES FOR CERTIFICATION
AND REGULATION OF COURT INTERPRETERS
PART I. GENERAL PROVISIONS
Rule 14.100. Definitions
(a) Certified Court Interpreter. An interpreter who has completed
the mandatory all requirements as defined by these rules and for certification in accordance with these rules, holds a valid certificate as a certified court interpreter, which certificate is 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.
(c) Provisionally Approved. A designation reserved for interpreters of spoken languages for which a state-certifying examination is available, such interpreters having passed the oral performance exam at a lesser qualifying prescribed level, but are not yet certified,
b d) Qualified or 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.
c e) 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.
d g) Court. Any county, circuit or district court of this state or the Supreme Court of Florida.
(h) State-Certifying Examination. An interpreter’s skills test for which a full or abbreviated board-approved oral performance examination is available.
(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 examination assessing functional proficiency during performance of actual tasks required for court interpretation. Consistent with this purpose, this examination measures linguistic knowledge and fluency in English and the non-English language. The examination also measures interpreting skills required to competently perform sight translation, consecutive interpretation, and simultaneous interpretation during court proceedings.
(k) Abbreviated Oral Performance Examination. An examination assessing functional proficiency to competently interpret simultaneously in court from English to a non-English language. This performance examination is available in select languages and typically comprises language groups which are encountered less frequently in the courts. Candidates must successfully pass the oral proficiency interview in English as a prerequisite to taking the exam.
(l) Oral Proficiency Interview. A standardized language proficiency assessment of functional speaking ability conducted via interview. For languages in which there is an abbreviated oral performance exam, candidates must successfully pass the oral proficiency interview in English as a prerequisite to taking the exam. For languages in which there is no state-certifying exam, candidates must successfully pass an oral proficiency interview in English and non-English languages as a prerequisite to designation as language skilled interpreters.
Rule 14.110. Court Interpreter Certification Board
(a) Board Composition. The Court Interpreter Certification Board is created to supervise the certification and conduct of persons engaged in foreign language interpreting in the courts. The board shall be under the supervisory authority of the Supreme Court of Florida. It shall be
comprised composed of ten persons, appointed by the chief justice, as follows:
(2) three circuit court judges;
(3) three trial court administrators;
(5) one state certified court interpreter.
(b) Staff. Such staff as may be necessary to administer the program and permit the board to carry out its duties shall be provided by the Office of the State Courts Administrator insofar as funded by the Florida Legislature.
(c) Officers; Quorum. The chief justice shall appoint one of the board members to serve as chair. A majority of the board shall constitute a quorum.
(d) Vacancies. Any vacancy on the board shall be filled by appointment by the chief justice. A person appointed to fill a vacancy shall serve for the remainder of the term of the member being replaced.
(f) Duties. The duties of the board shall include:
(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,
(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
(i) Expenses. Members of the board shall serve without compensation. However, they shall be reimbursed for all reasonable expenses incurred in the performance of their duties, in compliance with all rules and statutes governing such reimbursement.
PART II. INTERPRETER
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 descriptive terms employed in relation to the provision of court interpreting services, “qualified” and “duly qualified” refer 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. All applicants completing prerequisites for
(7) submit an application for certification, a language skilled, or provisionally approved designation and enclose an initial application fee in an amount set by the supreme court; and
(8) complete the process leading to designation within a mandatory two- year time frame, unless extended by the board in exceptional circumstances.
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 through an oral proficiency interview; and
(2) meet all general prerequisites under rule 14.200.
(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 only in exceptional circumstances.
Rule 14.210. Waiver of Examination Requirement
(a) Federal Certification. Upon presentation of proof satisfactory to the board, the oral
(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.
(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) passing two out of three components of the oral performance exam with a minimum score of 70 percent on each section; or
(2) scoring a minimum 60 percent on each section of the oral exam and an overall 65 percent or greater; and
(3) meeting all general prerequisites under rule 14.200.
(b) Loss of Designation. Individuals failing to become certified within two years following designation as provisionally approved shall 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 number and date of issue.
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.
(a) Assignments. Each certified, language skilled, and provisionally approved court interpreter shall complete 20 law-related professional interpreting assignments, or a lesser number totaling no fewer than 40 hours, in the course of every two-year compliance period. Interpreters unable to complete this requirement because of the limited need for interpreting services in their language may be eligible, upon written request and board approval, for an extension of time or exemption.
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
PART IV. DISCIPLINE
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
(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
(f) noncompliance with rule provisions directing completion of law-related professional interpreting assignments or continuing education requirements; or
Rule 14.410. Disciplinary Procedures
(a) Initiation. Disciplinary proceedings may be initiated by a standard form asserting a violation of these rules. The complaint shall be in writing under oath and filed with the Office of the State Courts Administrator. The board may initiate disciplinary proceedings on its own motion. The board shall be divided into an investigative committee and a hearing panel, as established by rules of the board.
(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
(c) Response. Within 30 days of the issuance of a finding of facial sufficiency, the
(e) Probable Cause Found. If probable cause exists, the investigative committee may draft formal charges and forward such charges for a hearing. In the alternative, the investigative committee may decide not to pursue the case by filing a short and plain statement of the reason(s) for non-referral and so advise the complainant and the interpreter in writing. If formal charges are filed, they shall include a short and plain statement of the matters asserted in the complaint and references to the particular rules involved.
(g) No Hearing Demanded. A proposed disposition issued pursuant to subdivision (f) (ii) shall become final unless the
(h) Hearing Demanded. If the
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
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
Rule 14.420. Disciplinary Hearings
(a) Pre-Hearing Discovery. Pre-hearing discovery shall not be permitted unless expressly authorized by the hearing panel, in response to a written request.
(c) Hearings to be Reported or Electronically Recorded. The hearing panel shall ensure that all hearings are reported or electronically recorded.
(d) Hearing Procedure. At the hearing, both the hearing panel and the
(e) Hearing Panel Deliberations. Following the presentation of evidence, the hearing panel shall deliberate regarding its decision. Such deliberations shall take place in private.
(f) Finality of Decision; Rehearing. Unless the
written decision, a copy of which shall be sent to the
Rule 14.430. Disciplinary Dispositions
(a) Burden of Proof. If the hearing panel finds that there is clear and convincing evidence that the
(b) Vote Required; Notification. All decisions of the hearing panel shall be by majority vote, in writing and, if adverse to the
(c) Sanctions. Sanctions may consist of one or more of the following:
(1) a private reprimand;
(2) a public reprimand;
(3) the imposition of costs and expenses incurred by the hearing panel in connection with the proceeding, including investigative costs;
(5) a requirement that specified continuing education courses and/or additional law-related professional interpreting assignments be
(6) a requirement that one or more parts of the
(7) a limitation on the scope of practice or interpreting services;
(8) a requirement that work be supervised;
(9) suspension of
(10) revocation of
Rule 14.440. Confidentiality of Disciplinary Proceeding
Rule 14.450. Reinstatement