Legal Interpreting Guidelines in Hawaii

hawaii on US mapRegulations for legal interpreters in Hawaii differ from those in other states. Legal Language Services ranks Hawaii as a state with moderately regulated legal interpreting requirements.

Your legal interpreter must have the appropriate level of certification that meets your language needs. This is especially true if you require a court interpreter.

This does not mean, however, that you should hire a certified interpreter for every situation.

Whether or not an interpreter is certified — let alone the level of certification — will have an effect on how much you are charged for legal interpreting services. Due to the added cost of certified professionals, it may not be a sound strategy to use certified legal interpreters if certification is not legally required for your proceeding.

In fact, some situations may not benefit from certified interpreters. In particular, where subject matter expertise and/or special skills are required, certification may be a secondary consideration in securing a competent interpreter.

As previously noted, non-certified legal interpreters can provide professional interpreting services at a more affordable price. As in other states, a certified interpreter in Hawaii will command a higher fee for legal interpreting services. Prices will be affected based on the level of certification.

Legal Language can help you determine the best interpreter, certified or otherwise, for your legal interpreting needs in Hawaii.

Requirements for Certified Interpreters in Hawaii

Hawaii state authorities periodically offer exams, both written and oral, for certification in Spanish and several other languages based on the guidelines of the Consortium for State Court Interpreter Certification.

In addition to Spanish, Hawaii offers certification in 28 other languages:

  • American Sign Language
  • Arabic
  • Bulgarian
  • Burmese
  • Cantonese
  • Cebuano
  • Chuukese
  • French
  • German
  • Hindi
  • Hungarian
  • Ilocano
  • Indonesian
  • Japanese
  • Khmer (Cambodian)
  • Korean
  • Kosraean
  • Laotian
  • Mandarin
  • Marshallese
  • Pohnpeian
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Samoan
  • Tagalog
  • Thai
  • Tongan
  • Vietnamese

Common Languages Spoken in Hawaii

According to a recent American Community Survey, approximately 25.59% of the Hawaii population speaks a language other than English.

What’s more, almost 86% of the non-English speaking population in Hawaii speaks one of the following 10 languages:

Tagalog 17.66%
Ilocano 15.87%
Japanese 15.44%
Spanish 7.85%
Chinese 6.02%
Hawaiian 5.86%
Korean 5.82%
Other Pacific Island languages 4.81%
Samoan 3.75%
Vietnamese 2.85%

 

Other languages spoken in Hawaii include Cantonese, French, Tongan, German, Bisayan, Mandarin, Laotian, Thai and Portuguese.

Classification of Interpreters in Hawaii

The Hawaii Judicial Department defines legal interpreters in the following ways:

  • Certified Master Interpreter: An interpreter who has scored a minimum of 80 percent on a three-part oral exam, passed a written exam, passed a basic ethics test, passed a criminal background check and attended a two-day basic orientation workshop.
  • Certified Interpreter: An interpreter who has scored a minimum of 70 percent on a three-part oral exam, passed a written exam, passed a basic ethics test, passed a criminal background check and attended a two-day basic orientation workshop.
  • Approved Interpreter: An interpreter who has scored a minimum of 60 percent on a three-part oral exam, passed a written exam, passed a basic ethics test, passed a criminal background check and attended a two-day basic orientation workshop.
  • Conditionally Approved Interpreter: An interpreter who has scored a minimum of 60 percent on an abbreviated oral exam, passed a written exam, passed a basic ethics test, passed a criminal background check and attended a two-day basic orientation workshop.
  • Registered Interpreter: An interpreter who has passed a written exam, passed a basic ethics test, passed a criminal background check and attended a two-day basic orientation workshop.

Not all venues in Hawaii require certified interpreters, even for Spanish-language cases. Please consult with Legal Language Services for the rules pertaining to your specific venue and language.

Judicial Districts in Hawaii

There are five judicial districts in Hawaii, one for each county: Hawaii, Honolulu, Kalawao, Kauai and Maui. Certification requirements in Hawaii are statewide and remain consistent across all local jurisdictions.

Call Legal Language Services at 1-800-788-0450 to find Hawaii interpreters who meet state interpreting rules for courtroom trials, hearings, depositions, arbitrations and other legal proceedings.

Please Note

The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The information about legal interpreting guidelines in Hawaii is believed to be accurate at the time of posting; however, Legal Language Services is not responsible for any errors or omissions.