DeKalb Circuit Judge Randall Cole said he’s not been directly notified about a U.S. Justice Department investigation into the proper use of interpreters in the local court system.

Cole said such interpreters are being used in DeKalb courts.

Court officials said the U.S. Justice Department is investigating whether Alabama’s courts are following federal civil rights law in providing interpreters for people who are not fluent in English.

A lawyer for the state’s Administrative Office of Courts, David Sawyer, recently said Justice Department personnel have visited Fort Payne, Birmingham, Albertville, Athens, Decatur and Oneonta.

Justice Department spokesman Alejandro Miyar said the goal is to determine if the courts are making federally required accommodations for people with limited English skills.

Sawyer said the investigation was prompted by a complaint more than a year ago. Since the complaint was filed, Alabama has started offering certification for court interpreters.

“We provide interpreters and we’re always careful to make sure we have interpreters when needed,” Cold said. “We haven’t had any contact from the Administrative Office of Courts or the U.S. Justice Department. The interpreters we use take an oath that they will translate correctly, and we haven’t considered it a problem.”

Ft. Payne Times-Journal