The Nebraska Supreme Court, through the State Court Administrator, has taken a much needed step forward in coordinating interpreter services for the state trial courts. The contracts of two highly experienced interpreters have been replaced with full-time positions in order to provide assistance with administrative functions. Adriana Hinojosa, Omaha, and Raul Escobar, Lincoln, will continue their Spanish interpreting for the courts in their respective cities. However, their expanded responsibilities will include assisting courts and probation offices across the state in locating interpreters for all language needs and arranging interpreters by video conferencing (Cisco Jabber) or by phone.
According to Trial Court Services Director, Sheryl Connolly, Nebraska’s court interpreter needs outside Omaha and Lincoln historically been exclusively for the Spanish language. Now, Nebraska’s small and midsize courts throughout the state require interpreters for Somali, Nuer, Urdu, Quiche and many other languages.
Nebraska’s population of individuals who speak a language other than English in the home increased 242% from 1990 to 2010, according to the 2010 American Community Survey, which named Nebraska the fifth state in the country for immigrant and refugee expansion. This explosion of people limited in their proficiency in the English language is creating increasing challenges for court and probation offices seeking to meet the needs of those individuals.
In response, the Nebraska Supreme Court elected to replace part time contracts with the interpreter coordinator positions to meet the needs for both interpreting and administrative components.
Initial projects and priorities for the newly developed positions include:
- Helping courts across the state identify and schedule interpreters in needed languages. Coordinators will also be compiling an expanded list of interpreters for languages not currently listed on the Judicial Branch Website.
- Recruiting, mentoring and helping to develop education and support for interpreters in all languages for which certified or provisionally-certified interpreters are not currently available. In 2013, priority languages for support development include Arabic, Somali, Nuer, and Vietnamese, which are among the top ten language needs in Nebraska courts. Certified interpreters are currently available in Spanish, American Sign Language, Mandarin Chinese and Russian.
The goal of this effort is to provide trained court interpreters for services in Nebraska courts.
Courts and probation officers can contact the Interpreter coordinators by e-mailing NSC.Interpreters@nebraska.gov or calling Adriana at (402) 250-0041 or Raul at (402) 440-9989.