Self-help law center

Representing yourself in court

How to get an interpreter for court

If you have a court hearing in any type of case (criminal or civil) and you need the services of an interpreter, it is the circuit court's responsibility to provide and pay for the interpreter. There are several ways you can request an interpreter:

By phone
You can call the clerk of court in the county where your hearing will be held and let staff know you need an interpreter and inform them of the language you best communicate in. If you need an interpreter or other communication device because of a disability, the court may have an ADA coordinator who handles those types of requests, so you may be directed to a different office. 

In-person
You can request an interpreter in person by going to the clerk of court's office or window and making the request personally. If you speak a rarer language, staff may need help from you to identify the language. They may ask you to indicate the language by pointing to it from a list of possible languages. "I Speak" cards (external link) are bilingual cards that include a statement that requests an interpreter.

By form
You can also request an interpreter by completing a form and filing it with the clerk of court's office. GF-149 PDF is the form used to request an interpreter for a spoken language and GF-153 PDF is the form used for an accommodation request. Both of these forms are available on the court's website and can be printed out and filled out ahead of time.

For all requests, you should provide your name, address, the date and time of the hearing, the language or accommodation needed, and case number (if you know it). Please try to give the court as much time as possible to arrange for an interpreter, especially if you speak a more rare language. If you wait too long, the court may have difficulties finding an interpreter who is certified or qualified to do the job. As a reminder, the interpreter who is hired by the court works for the court - not you or the other side. He or she has a duty to abide by a Code of Ethics which requires him or her to be a neutral. If you experience a problem with a particular court interpreter, you can file a complaint.

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