HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — The Horry County Clerk of Courts office is having difficulties finding interpreters for longer court trials.
Interpreters are only paid for their time in front of a judge. If a case gets postponed an interpreter does not get paid.
“They know that the court can be continued,” said Renee Elvis, Horry County Clerk of Court. If it’s continued, they’re out of work — they don’t have anything to do that week because they’ve blocked that week off for us to do court.”
Elvis said interpreters hesitate to take longer cases.
“A day, two days, they’re pretty good with that, but if it’s a five day case it’s more difficult to find [them],” she said.
The county has two interpreters for Spanish . If they are not available, the clerk has to look other places. When it comes to other languages, it is even more difficult to find an interpreter.
“I have to bring them in from somewhere else,” she said.
This can cost the clerk’s office travel expenses, lodging expenses, and pay on top of that.
To help interpreters not waste time and money traveling here, the clerk’s office is doing some trials virtually.
This way, an interpreter would still be paid for time in front of a judge and if the case were to be postponed, the interpreter would not have wasted time coming here.
The clerk’s office cannot just use any person who knows a language as an interpreter.
“It has to be a court-appointed interpreter or what the state of South Carolina calls an ‘otherwise appointed interpreter,'” she said. “It can’t just be my brother coming to interpret for me or someone that I know. It has to be somebody that knows court lingo.”
Knowing specific phrases is very important because substitutions are not allowed and meanings have to be exact.
Interpreters go through written and oral exams and a workshop to become certified. To become an interpreter, contact the South Carolina Judicial Department in Columbia.
If an interpreter is not available it can also create a backlog of cases while the clerk’s office works to find someone.