California Federation of Interpreters

Reporting Remote Interpreting Problems During the COVID-19 State of Emergency

Interpreters Need to Document Issues of Remote Interpreting Use and Failures

As the pandemic continues, and in some instances expands throughout the state, there is pressure on the part of justice partners and the courts to limit the number of people in courtrooms. In the case of interpreters who are working on site, it has become abundantly clear that there are many courts that are unable to provide optimum conditions for Centers for Disease Control social distancing and personal protective equipment guidelines. 

To keep interpreting staff safe during the COVID-19 crisis, there is an expansion in the use of several forms of remote interpreting. The Local has been able to formalize side letters in which remote interpreting “sundowns” and will only be utilized during the state of emergency; the Union continues in talks with several counties to bring standardization of best professional practices and minimize the potential for abusive, dangerous, or unhealthful practices.

In some courts this remote interpreting is done on site with the interpreter in their own room, out of the courtroom or other offices (mediation, probate, etc.). There are some superior courts that are trying to distance the interpreter and carry out the interpretation using employees sheltered at home, or a completely separate room/facility from the one in which they are assigned, all in the interest of social distancing and keeping everyone contagion-free.

Since beginning this “experiment” with improvised distance interpreting, many of our members have called their stewards and/or our Local complaining about situations that may be putting at risk the rights of the parties involved in the proceedings. We commonly hear that one thing or another “needs to be fixed.” Insofar as this remote interpreting during COVID-19, our duty is to document and memorialize all the problems of providing language access for LEPs through the myriad of distance interpreting systems that are popping up due to the need for social distancing.

We are asking members throughout the state to notify the Union on our local’s website about any language access and remote interpreting technological issues you may be encountering during this COVID-19 period. Click on this linkand in the Subject Line please indicate “Remote Interpreting Issue,” as well as fill in the other details as completely as you are able. Anyone may file a report about remote interpreting issues – that includes justice partners, like Attorneys, Bench officers, etc.

Remember that you have an ethical duty, outlined in our Ethics Manual (page 33) and Rules of Court 2.890 (h) to report (on the record) impediments to your performance. It is clearly stated in our MOUs that no interpreter may be retaliated against, nor disciplined for bringing the impediment to the attention of the Court, or any other authorized party.

Please recognize that if you are omitting or misunderstanding the source information based on faulty remote interpreting technology or lack of sound procedures and protocols, you may be exposing yourself to challenges from court staff or even the Limited English Proficient individual. It should be noted that these remote interpreting platforms have the ability and may even automatically record an interpreter’s performance.

Therefore, it is your right and duty to state in open court that the equipment is not functioning properly, you need a repetition, cannot hear, etc., because those are indeed impediments to your performance. If you do not speak up, if you do not file a report with the Local, you could be held responsible for errors and omissions, and that could even lead to your certification/registration in jeopardy of being revoked.

If your Court is starting, or is presently carrying out any sort of remote interpreting (VRI, Telephonic, etc.), and particularly if you find that the equipment and protocols are impacting your ability to provide a complete and accurate interpretation for all parties involved… WE NEED TO HEAR FROM YOU. Your integrity as a sworn court interpreter and an LEP individual’s rights may be on the line!

Stay safe; stay well.

In solidarity, 

The CFI Local 39000 Executive Board




Judicial Council of California - Adoption of Emergency Rules

Please Read Full Report



 2019 Completion of Continuing Education

Extension of Deadline to April 30, 2020  


The deadline to receive payment, and if due, your signed document attesting to completion of your continuing education and professional assignment requirement, has been extended without penalty to April 30, 2020 due to the COVID-19 health crisis. This deadline has been extended to provide any interpreters who are experiencing financial hardship with additional time to submit their annual fees and/or required documentation.

To avoid suspension and removal from the Judicial Council’s Master List, we must receive your annual renewal fee and/or compliance form by the extended deadline of April 30, 2020. No monetary penalties will be assessed. Please refer to the expiration date on your badge that indicates when you need to submit the compliance form.

For any questions. Please contact: 

Debbie Chong

Informational Webinar Regarding Cares Act 

(Click on this link)
“The Two Trillion Dollar ‘CARES ACT'’”
New Benefits for Working People and Their Families 




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