The Michigan Certification Program
In September 1999 the Michigan State Court Administrative Office joined the
Consortium for Language Access in the Courts (CLAC) of the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). As of the end of May 2006, there were 35 member states, representing over two-thirds of the nation's non-English-speaking population. The Consortium is a multistate partnership dedicated to developing court interpreter proficiency tests, making tests available to member states, and regulating the use of the tests. Consortium resources achieve economies of scale across jurisdictional and organizational boundaries.
In January 2000 the State Court Administrative Office instituted a state-level program that provides for the testing and certification of non-English-language interpreters for use in Michigan courts. The State Court Administrative Office conducts certification testing for Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Vietnamese, and other languages for which there is a Consortium test. Since 2007, all previously uncertified interpreters are required to take and pass a written examination before they may take the oral proficiency examination. This helps to predict whether candidates are ready for the oral examination. Candidates for all languages take the exam at the same time. There is no cost for taking the written examination.
The State Court Administrative Office has established a code of professional conduct for interpreters, a recommended oath for courts to use, and an interpreter qualification screening checklist for use in local courts.
In September of 2013 the Supreme Court issued new rules regarding how trial courts are to provide language access services. Also, the Court required each court to submit a language access plan, informing staff on how to provide language access services outside of the courtroom. These rules help the Court ensure consistent, meaningful language access in all Michigan courts. See SCAO Administrative Memorandum 2013-02
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