Search Tips


Effective Date: 8/11/2021


The judicial system's policy is to ensure that adequate court interpreter services are provided for those persons who are unable to readily understand or communicate in the English language because of a disability or a non-English speaking background. This rule establishes court interpreter qualifications and general procedures to assist in ensuring that effective interpreter services are provided.


(a) Interpreter at No Cost. A limited English proficiency individual is one whose first language is other than English and who has a limited ability to speak, read, write or understand English. Interpreters will be provided at no cost to a limited English proficiency individual or deaf individual under the following circumstances:

(1) for deaf or hearing impaired individuals who are a party or witness in any type of case;

(2) for limited English proficiency parties and witnesses in criminal, administrative traffic, or infraction cases;

(3) for limited English proficiency parties and witnesses in juvenile hearings;

(4) for limited English proficiency parties and witnesses in mental health cases under N.D.C.C. ch. 25-03.1;

(5) for limited English proficiency parties and witnesses in sexually dangerous commitment cases under N.D.C.C. ch. 25-03.3;

(6) for limited English proficiency parties and witnesses in guardianship cases under N.D.C.C. ch. 30.1-27 (minors) and 30.1-28 (incapacitated person);

(7) for limited English proficiency parties and witnesses in conservatorship cases under N.D.C.C. ch. 30.1-29;

(8) for limited English proficiency parties and witnesses in domestic violence protection order cases under N.D.C.C. ch. 14-07.1;

(9) for limited English proficiency parties and witnesses in sexual assault restraining order cases under N.D.C.C. § 12.1-31-01.2;

(10) for limited English proficiency parties and witnesses in disorderly conduct restraining order cases under N.D.C.C. ch. 12.1-31.2;

(11) for limited English proficiency parties and witnesses in annulment of marriage cases under N.D.C.C. ch. 14-04;

(12) for limited English proficiency parties and witnesses in divorce cases under N.D.C.C. ch. 14-05;

(13) for limited English proficiency parties and witnesses in paternity cases under N.D.C.C. ch. 14-20;

(14) for limited English proficiency parties and witnesses in contempt of court cases under N.D.C.C. ch. 27-10.

(b) Appointment under Rule. An interpreter will be appointed for a person with limited English proficiency who does not qualify for a free interpreter under subsection 2(a) but who meets the standards of N.D.R.Civ.P. 43 or N.D.R.Crim.P. 28. A party in a civil case may be required to reimburse the court for interpreter costs based upon ability to pay.

(c) Payment for Interpreters. Payment for interpreter services on behalf of law enforcement, counsel for indigents, prosecutors or corrections agents, other than at court appearances, is the responsibility of the agency that requested the services or the political subdivision that appointed counsel. Interpreter services required for evaluations, treatment, classes, or other similar services is the responsibility of the agency providing the service.

(d) Exclusions. Payment for interpreter services for discussions or meetings with an attorney, depositions, discovery process, or other legal process outside of a court appearance is the responsibility of the party requesting the service.


Except as otherwise provided in this rule, in order to provide court interpreter services in a judicial proceeding as required by statute, rule, or order of the court, a person must have the following qualifications:

(a) If providing interpreter services for a person who is deaf or hearing impaired, certification by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, certification by the National or North Dakota Association for the Deaf, or approval by the superintendent for the state school for the deaf.

(b) If providing interpreter services for a non-English speaking person, certification by a recognized interpreter certification program in another jurisdiction and presence on a statewide roster of interpreters, if any, maintained by that jurisdiction.


If a court interpreter satisfying the requirements of section 2 is not available, a court may obtain the services of any other interpreter whose actual qualifications have been determined by examination or other appropriate means. For purposes of this section, "actual qualifications" means the ability to readily communicate with a non-English speaking person and orally transfer the meaning of statements to and from English and the language spoken by the non-English speaking person, or the ability to communicate with a hearing-impaired or otherwise disabled person, interpret the proceedings, and accurately repeat and interpret the statements of the hearing-impaired or otherwise disabled person.


(a) Interpreter Oath. Before commencing duties, an interpreter must take an oath that the interpreter will make a true, complete, and impartial interpretation in an understandable manner to the person requiring interpretation services and that the interpreter will truly, completely, and impartially repeat the statements of the person to the best of the interpreter's skills and judgment.

(b) Conflicts of Interest - Bias. An interpreter must disclose to the court any actual or perceived conflicts of interest that may impair the interpreter's ability to adequately interpret the proceedings. An interpreter must be impartial and unbiased and must refrain from conduct that may give the appearance of bias.

(c) Objection to Interpreter. An objection regarding any circumstances that may render an interpreter unqualified to interpret in the proceeding must be made in a timely manner. The court must consider the objection and make a ruling on the record.

(d) Method of Interpretation. As the circumstances require, the court willconsult with the interpreter and the parties regarding the method of interpretation to be used to ensure that a complete and accurate interpretation of the testimony of a witness or party is obtained.

(e) Recording of Proceeding. The court on its own motion or on the motion of a party may order that the testimony of the person for whom interpretation services are provided and the interpretation be recorded for use in verifying the official transcript of the proceeding. If an interpretation error is believed to have occurred based on review of the recording, a party may file a motion requesting that the court direct that the official transcript be amended.

(f) Additional Interpreter. As circumstances may require, the court may provide an additional interpreter to afford relief and reduce fatigue if the time period of interpretation exceeds two continuous hours.

(g) Removal of Interpreter. The court may remove an interpreter if the interpreter:

(1) is unable to adequately interpret the proceedings;

(2) knowingly makes a false interpretation;

(3) knowingly discloses confidential or privileged information obtained while serving as an interpreter;

(4) knowingly fails to disclose a conflict of interest that impairs the ability to provide complete and accurate interpretation; or

(5) fails to appear as scheduled without good cause.


This rule is effective March 1, 2005.

This rule is effective March 1, 2005. This rule was amended, effective August 1, 2015March 1, 2019; August 11, 2021.

Effective Date Obsolete Date
08/11/2021 View
03/01/2019 08/11/2021 View
08/01/2015 03/01/2019 View
03/01/2005 08/01/2015 View