Effective September 1, 2014, S.B. 966 (83rd Regular Legislature) redesignates provisions of the Government Code into newly added Chapter 157, relating to the licensure of court interpreters for individuals who can hear, but who do not comprehend English or communicate in English, to reflect the transfer of the functions of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) related to such licenses to the Judicial Branch Certification Commission.
What does this mean for licensed court interpreters? Starting September 1, 2014, Licensed Court Interpreters will be licensed by the new Judicial Branch Certification Commission (JBCC), not by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR). TDLR and the Office of Court Administration (OCA) are currently working together to ensure a smooth transition. Until that time, TDLR will continue administering all aspects of the Licensed Court Interpreters program.
Rules proposed by JBCC and OCA are posted on their website for review and public comment. All comments on the proposed rules should be directed to OCA. The 30-day period during which you may comment on the rules ends on December 9, 2013. OCA’s new rules will not become effective until September 1, 2014. The rules must be approved by the Supreme Court of Texas.
S.B. 966 removes the definition of “licensed court interpreter” from Section 57.001(5) of the Government Code, and makes a conforming change to Article 38.30 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The new definition is in Section 157.001 of the Government Code, and the rest of Subchapter C of Chapter 57 of the Government Code (Court Interpreters for Individuals Who Do Not Communicate in English) is relocated to new Chapter 157.
S.B. 966 does not change any of the current rules or procedures for examinations, licensing, continuing education, or the basic/master license designation that took effect in September 2011. The bill does say that a court interpreter’s license issued by TDLR is continued in effect as a license of the Commission, effective September 1, 2014.
H.B. 4445 (81st Regular Legislature) took effect September 1, 2011, creating two license designations: basic and master. A "basic" designation will permit the interpreter to interpret court proceedings in justice and municipal courts that are not municipal courts of record, other than a proceeding before the court in which the judge is acting as magistrate. A "master" designation will permit the interpreter to interpret court proceedings in all courts in this state, including justice and municipal courts.
Interpreters who score at least 60% on each part of the oral examination will be issued the basic designation license. Interpreters who score at least 70% on the oral examination will be issued the master designation license and will be permitted to interpret in court proceedings in all courts in the state. All interpreters must pass the written examination with a score of at least 80%.
According to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR), those licensed court interpreters who held an active court interpreter license should have been issued a replacement license with the "master" designation on or before August 31, 2011. If you did not receive your replacement license, contact TDLR at CS.Court.Interpreters@license.state.tx.us or call at 512.463.6599 or 800.803.9202 with your name, license number, and current address.
Any appointments made prior to January 1, 2012 need not discriminate between the basic or master designation. Appointments made on or after that date must reflect the designations. Section 57.002, G.C.
Court Interpreter's Pre-Certification Orientation
For those who attended the orientation on August 8, 2013, certificates will be mailed out by October 1, 2013. In the meantime, certificates may be accessed and printed here by entering your login and password.
TMCEC will no longer be offering 8-hour Court Interpreter programs for already licensed court interpreters. If you are looking for another provider for your continuing education, TDLR maintains a list of approved providers. It can be accessed through TDLR's website here.
TMCEC will continue to offer a listserv for Licensed Court Interpreters. If you would like to be added to the listserv, you can contact Hope Lochridge by email. Please indicate in your message that you would like to be added to the Court Interpreter listserv.
Court interpreters provide an essential connection between foreign language-speakers, and the hearing and language impaired, and their access to the judiciary. As of January 1, 2007, licensed court interpreters in Texas are required to present proof of attendance at eight hours of continuing education in order to maintain licensure through the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.
Two hours must be dedicated to ethics, while the remaining six hours may be taken in one or more of the following topics:
Licensed court interpreters are regulated by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.* Questions about licenses should be addressed to:
*Until September 1, 2014, when oversight moves to the Judicial Branch Certification Commission.
Looking for a licensed court interpreter?
Click here to search for a licensed court interpreter by city or county. Read Chapter 57 of the Government Code for laws regarding licensed court interpreters. Click here for relevant Code of Criminal Procedure and Government Code sections pertaining to the court's use of a licensed court interpreter.
Additional resources for Spanish interpreters:
TMCEC has created a Spanish legal glossary for use by municipal courts. It is a combination of the glossary and definitions provided by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation for those studying to be licensed court interpreters in Spanish. Some modifications were made to be municipal court specific. Although by no means an exhaustive glossary of all applicable legal terms or the only possible choices for translation, TMCEC hopes this publication will provide a solid base from which our constituents can study, understand basic legal terminology, and improve their communication skills in Spanish. To order this publication, click here.
Waiver of Registration Fees
If an individual, city, or court is unable to pay the registration fee, please write a letter explaining the financial difficulty to the Board of Directors for consideration 45 days prior to the event. Address your letter to TMCEC Board of Directors, c/o Hope Lochridge, Executive Director, 2210 Hancock Drive, Austin, Texas 78756.