First Marshallese Court Interpreter Sworn In

Feb 28, 2013

Arkansas has the nation's first certified Marshallese court interpreter.

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Hannah swore in Melisa Laelan as a certified interpreter for people from the Marshall Islands during a ceremony Thursday in Little Rock.

Arkansas is home to the second-largest population of people from the small Pacific island nation in the continental U.S., with more than 4,000 Marshall Islanders living in the state's northwest.

Hannah says Marshallese is the second most requested language in the state courts, after Spanish.

He says Laelan, of Springdale, has been "indispensable" to the courts, taking on nearly all of the Marshallese interpreting requests in recent years. He says Laelan interpreted in more than 800 cases last year.

Hannah also swore in two new certified Spanish court interpreters.