Requesting an Interpreter

This document describes procedures for requesting interpreters for each of the following groups:

Courtroom Deputy Clerks and Law Clerks

Effective August 1, 2008, courtroom deputies -- or where there is no deputy, the judge's law clerks -- are responsible for notifying the Interpreters Office in timely fashion of the need for an interpreter in matters before the District Court.

The most convenient and efficient way to do this is via the Interpreters Office's request manager. Judges' staff are strongly encouraged to make use of this system whenever possible. Alternatively, or for late-emerging matters, please contact us at 212 805-0084 or

US Probation Officers

The Interpreters Office's web-based request system is also available to USPOs, and we strongly recommend its use in all cases.

Assistant United States Attorneys

The Board of Judges' SDNY Clerk's Office Committee approved a policy, effective August 1, 2008, for ordering interpreters for in-court proceedings in criminal cases. The objective is to increase the efficiency of court operations and manage resources effectively.

The only events for which AUSAs will be responsible for ordering courtroom interpreters are:

  • new arrests (presentments)
  • detention hearings, or
  • matters referred to Magistrates Court

For new arrests, an AUSA should notify the Magistrates Clerk's Office as soon as he or she becomes aware that an interpreter will be needed, specifying the number of defendants and the language. Then the Magistrate Clerk's Office is expected to notify the Interpreters office. Nevertheless we strongly encourage AUSAs to notify us directly.

According to the practice in the SDNY, when a case is wheeled out to a District Judge, the AUSA contacts the judge's chambers to inform them that the judge has received a case, so as to schedule an initial pretrial conference. At that point the AUSA should also inform the courtroom deputy of any defendant who needs an interpreter, and of what language.

Once the case goes before the District Judge, the courtroom deputy (or law clerk) is responsible for scheduling interpreters for court proceedings before that Judge.

Note that interpreters for proffers or government witnesses are coordinated through your office.

Defense Attorneys (CJA or Federal Defenders)

It is not always possible to accommodate unscheduled interviews in the cellblock. The same interpreter who is covering the court proceeding may assist you so long as the office has been notified and there are no prior scheduling conflicts. In-court proceedings take priority. Interpreter assistance in the cellblock is provided to a maximum of 60 minutes per interview. 

Telephone: (212) 805-0084
Email: please contact us if you do not know our address, or use our contact page.