How to get certified: Other requirements

The other requirements for obtaining certification include filling out an oath of office form , court observation , keeping updated contact information on file with the Court Interpreter Program (CIP) and completion of a character and fitness screening.

13. Character and fitness requirement

In order to protect the integrity of court proceedings and the safety of the public, interpreters are required to meet a character and fitness standard. A court interpreter should be one whose record of conduct justifies the trust of the courts, witnesses, jurors, attorneys, parties, and the public. A record manifesting significant deficiency in the honesty, trustworthiness, diligence, or reliability of an applicant is material to performance as a court interpreter and may warrant a denial of participation within the certification program or removal from the roster of interpreters.

13.1 Criminal background check

The CIP will conduct a criminal background check on all new participants who complete orientation through the Wisconsin Department of Justice Crime Information Bureau (DOJ-CIB) and/or the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access (WCCA) website. The CIP will conduct a criminal background check annually on all interpreters listed on the roster through DOJ-CIB and/or WCCA.

For new participants, if the CIP finds a criminal conviction that may be material to the candidate's performance as a court interpreter, but the candidate does not intend to pursue certification, no action will be taken. If the CIP finds a criminal conviction that may be material to the interpreter candidate's performance as a court interpreter and the candidate intends to pursue certification, the matter will be referred to the Character and Fitness Sub-Committee. Cause for referral to the Character and Fitness Sub-Committee may include arrests; conviction of a felony; crimes involving dishonesty, deceit, or misrepresentation; crimes requiring registration as a sex offender; arrests or convictions of similar offenses in other jurisdictions; or other illegal behavior. In making a determination whether referral to the sub-committee is appropriate, the CIP manager may take into consideration other factors such as age of candidate when the conviction occurred, length of time from when the crime was committed; nature and seriousness of the offense; and disposition.

For interpreters listed on the roster, any new criminal conviction(s) will automatically be referred to the Character and Fitness Sub-Committee for review. While a character and fitness review is pending, the Director may suspend the interpreter's certification or appearance on the roster if it appears the interpreter's continued practice as an interpreter poses a substantial threat or harm to the public or to the integrity of the court system.

13.2 Character and Fitness Sub-Committee

The Character and Fitness Sub-Committee ("the Sub-Committee") is a permanent group consisting of three (3) rotating members of the Committee. The composition of the Sub-Committee at all times will include at least one (1) judge. The Sub-Committee's charge is to consider all relevant information presented and to make a recommendation to the Director as to whether the interpreter's character and fitness are sufficient to ensure the integrity and competence of interpreting services and the maintenance of high standards in the administration of justice.

13.3 Character and fitness review process

If the matter is referred to the Sub-Committee, the CIP manager will gather relevant information related to the conduct in question. Relevant information may include but is not limited to search results from the DOJ-CIB, records from WCCA, criminal complaint, information, conditions of bond or release, judgment of conviction, and law enforcement investigative reports. The CIP manager will send a cover letter along with a copy of all supporting information via email and US postal service to the individual. The individual will have twenty (20) business days from the date listed on the cover letter to submit a signed written response to the CIP either via email or postal service.

The individual may also request an in-person hearing with the Sub-Committee in lieu of submitting a written response or in addition to submitting a written response. If an in-person hearing is requested, a date, time, and location at which all Sub-Committee members can meet in-person will be scheduled. The CIP will provide the interpreter with written notice of the hearing via email and postal service. The interpreter may be represented by counsel and may present evidence. The Sub-Committee may request or gather additional information at the conclusion of the hearing. All hearings will be recorded and shall be private and confidential.

Within twenty (20) business days of submission of a written response or within twenty (20) business days of the conclusion of the investigation, the Sub-Committee will issue a report and recommendation to the Director as to whether the interpreter candidate possesses the character and fitness necessary to perform the duties of a court interpreter. If the individual did not provide a written response to the Sub-Committee for consideration, members shall make a recommendation with the supporting information alone. Members may consider the individual's lack of response when making its recommendation.

Upon receipt and review of the Sub-Committee's report and recommendation, the Director will issue a final decision as to whether the interpreter will be allowed to remain on the roster or whether the individual will be allowed to continue with the certification process if he or she is not currently on the roster. A letter shall be sent to the interpreter informing him or her of the Director's decision along with the report and recommendation of the Sub-Committee and copies of any information the Sub-Committee may have considered in making its recommendation.

If an interpreter has been removed from the roster or not been allowed to continue with the certification process, the interpreter may apply for reconsideration after a 2-year period from the date of removal or denial has passed or other specified date as determined by the Director. The review process governing character and fitness evaluations, along with any supporting documents submitted on behalf of the interpreter are confidential and will be shared only with the interpreter and court officials involved. The outcome of the review is public.

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