Equal access to justice for all those who come before the Court in Philadelphia is provided by two departments within The First Judicial District of Pennsylvania. Interpreters are provided to those needing language assistance at NO COST to the litigant.
The Court maintains an office for Spanish staff interpreters that provide interpreting services to all court locations.
Please use the following phone numbers when in need of Spanish interpreters in the various courthouse locations:
Common Pleas Criminal Division: (215) 683-7093
Municipal Court Criminal Division: (215) 683-7272
Family Court, Juvenile and Domestic Relations Divisions: (215) 686-3513
Court Reporter and Interpreter Services Administration contracts with independent interpreting agencies to provide Court Interpreters for all languages other than Spanish, and for sign language interpreters. To Contact Court Reporter and Interpreter Services to arrange for an interpreter other than Spanish, please call 215-683-8000.
The following information may help you, or assist you in helping a non-English speaking person, or deaf person to navigate our court system:
If you are a Court Officer, Customer Service Representative, Probation Officer, Advocate, Attorney, or someone representing and/or assisting a person in need of an interpreter, please contact Interpreter Services at the time the matter is being listed in order to give us time to arrange in advance to have an interpreter present.
The Court Interpreter Request Forms are to be used when making a request for an interpreter by any Court employee, or representative from City Agencies, the District Attorney's Office, the Defender Association, any Advocacy group, or court-appointed attorneys. Please fax the form in advance of your listing to 215-683-8005
If the matter is continued or re-listed, or the party that needs the interpreter will not be present at the previously planned time, please contact this office as soon as possible to cancel the interpreter. The First Judicial District of Pennsylvania is obligated to pay for the interpreter if advance cancellation notice is not given to the agency.
Sign language interpreters for the deaf or hearing-impaired that are hired by the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania often arrive as a team. This occurs because until the deaf interpreter meets the user, we are not sure whether or not the person uses sign language or a home-based sign language. Two interpreters are needed if the deaf person is not an American Sign Language user.
Please try to ascertain from the person who needs a language interpreter, or anyone with that individual, what country they are from, or region, and what dialect they speak. This information saves wasted time later at the hearing, and often can alleviate having to continue the matter a second or sometimes third time to determine exactly which dialect they speak.
Our Interpreters have requested and appreciate as much information about a matter ahead of time as can be given. What type of case is this? Is it a trial? Custody dispute? Sentencing or Juvenile hearing? What is the expected duration of the hearing? Is it a week-long trial? 5-minute hearing? An all-day protracted matter? If the person received interpreting services previously, what date was that service provided? All of this information assists our office and the agencies to assign and schedule the appropriate interpreter to each matter.
Court Interpreters have an ethical duty to interpret for the client within the courtroom setting including all of what the judge, the attorneys and witnesses say and questions asked. However, they should not be asked, and we specifically require them not to explain the law, or any legal issue to a client. This is the duty of the Judge and the attorneys; not the interpreter. The Interpreter is hired by the Court as an impartial party to provide language interpretation for the client; not to be their advocate or advisor.
Should you require more information pertaining to court interpreters in the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania, please feel free to contact Danielle O'Connor, Deputy Court Administrator, Danielle.OConnor@courts.phila.gov or Elizabeth McCarrick, Interpreter Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to assist you.