The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia (WVSCA) is committed to providing language access to anyone involved in state court proceedings, regardless of the language they speak. The Access to Justice Division provides language access through interpreter services for all individuals exhibiting Limited or No English Proficiency (LEP) during all hearings, trials, and motions, and in important actions with court personnel. All interested LEP parties (plaintiff, defendant, petitioner, respondent, witness, or parent or legal guardian of a minor party) have a right to an interpreter when in court. Interpreter services are provided at the Court’s expense, regardless of a user’s ability to pay for the services.
West Virginia state courts are to provide foreign language interpreters and interpretation/translation services to all persons of Limited or No English Proficiency (LEP), including parents of non-LEP minors, in criminal or civil settings during all hearings, trials and motions, and in important interactions with court personnel. West Virginia Courts shall also provide this service for preparation for hearings, trials and motions and in depositions in cases which are the responsibility of or being brought by the state. Interpreters are to be provided at no cost to the user, regardless of his or her ability or perceived ability to pay, as meaningful access to the courts is the right of all citizens, in particular LEPs under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
WHO IS PROVIDED AN INTERPRETER
West Virginia state law requires interpreters to be provided for those who are non-English speaking in state courts and can be found in the Code at § 57-5-7.
West Virginia state courts provide interpreters in civil, criminal, and family court proceedings for Plaintiffs, Defendants, Petitioners, Respondents, Witnesses, and for Parents/Guardians if a minor is involved in the court proceedings.
THREE METHODS OF INTERPRETING
The courts can provide foreign language interpreter by three different methods.
- In Person
- The interpreter is to be present in person for all matters involving civil rights, including criminal proceedings. West Virginia Courts shall also provide this service for preparation for hearings, trials and motions, and in depositions in cases which are the responsibility of or being brought by the state.
- The interpreter can appear by video for all other court proceedings and instances NOT involving civil or parental rights.
- The interpreter can appear by telephone for initial appearances and when the LEP individual needs to communicate with essential court personnel.
Interpreters who provide interpreting services in court settings cannot in any way be related to, socially connected to, or otherwise familiar with any party, witness, or family member. Therefore, anyone (family member, friend, etc.) who comes in with the individual needing these services CANNOT interpret in court settings.
The Access to Justice Division also provides document translations. Be aware that we do NOT use our interpreters to translate documents. The following documents set a minimum standard for those documents which shall be provided in written translation for the LEP individual:
- Consent and complaint forms
- Intake forms that have potential legal consequences
- Notices of eligibility criteria, rights, denial, loss, changes/decreases in benefits
- All Final Orders
The Access to Justice Division can arrange for any document(s) that a judge determines to be vital to be translated as well.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW REQUIRES AN INTERPRETER
Anyone who needs an interpreter should submit a Request for Foreign Language Interpreter/Translation Services Form, which is available at each county clerk’s office. Failure to complete this form does not dismiss the right to an interpreter, but the local court must be made aware of the need for an interpreter, so that one can be arranged for the proceedings.
If you need foreign language interpretation services in West Virginia Courts, or if you are interested in serving in West Virginia Courts as a language interpreter, please call the Access to Justice Division's Director Kara Mann at 304-558-0145. Si necesita servicios de interpretación extranjeros en los tribunales de West Virginia, por favor llame al Division Director de Proyectos Especiales Kara Mann al 304-558-0145.
Foreign Language Interpreter/Translator Forms