Rule 604 – Interpreter

An interpreter must be qualified and must give an oath or affirmation to make a true translation.

Summary and Explanation

Federal Rule of Evidence 604 addresses the use of interpreters in legal proceedings. Here’s a summary and explanation of the rule:

  1. Oath or Affirmation for Interpreters: The rule mandates that any interpreter used in a court proceeding must take an oath or affirmation. This oath or affirmation is a promise to make a true translation to the best of the interpreter’s abilities.
  2. Ensuring Accurate Translation: The primary purpose of this rule is to ensure that the translation provided by the interpreter is as accurate and faithful to the original speech as possible. This is crucial in legal settings where precise communication is essential for fairness and justice.
  3. Applies to All Forms of Interpretation: The rule encompasses all types of interpretation, including language interpretation for non-English speakers and sign language interpretation for the hearing impaired.
  4. Maintaining Integrity of Testimony: By requiring interpreters to formally commit to accuracy, the rule aims to preserve the integrity of the testimony or legal arguments being translated, ensuring that all parties in a legal proceeding have a fair opportunity to present their case.

Rule 604 is vital in maintaining fairness in legal proceedings, particularly in a diverse society where parties involved may not speak the same language or have the same ability to hear. It recognizes the critical role of interpreters in the justice system and holds them to a standard of accuracy and reliability.


(Pub. L. 93–595, §1, Jan. 2, 1975, 88 Stat. 1934; Mar. 2, 1987, eff. Oct. 1, 1987; Apr. 26, 2011, eff. Dec. 1, 2011.)

Notes of Advisory Committee on Proposed Rules

The rule implements Rule 43(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Rule 28(b) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, both of which contain provisions for the appointment and compensation of interpreters.

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1987 Amendment

The amendment is technical. No substantive change is intended.

Committee Notes on Rules—2011 Amendment

The language of Rule 604 has been amended as part of the restyling of the Evidence Rules to make them more easily understood and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules. These changes are intended to be stylistic only. There is no intent to change any result in any ruling on evidence admissibility.

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