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Massachusetts Trial Court Office of Court Interpreter Services


Massachusetts Trial Court Office of Court Interpreter Services ASSISTING LIMITED ENGLISH PROFICIENT (LEP) PARTIES IN THE TRIAL COURT Presenter: Leonor Figueroa-Feher ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Massachusetts Trial Court Office of Court Interpreter Services

Massachusetts Trial Court Office of Court
Interpreter Services
  • Presenter
  • Leonor Figueroa-Feher, Ph.D.
  • Program Manager for Training, OCIS
  • April 2014

Points for Presentation
  • Why Language Access?
  • OCIS Language Access Resources
  • Requesting interpreter services
  • Requesting telephone interpreter services
  • Tips for effective communication with LEP parties
    through interpreters
  • Things to avoid when working with interpreters

The Office of Court Interpreter Services (OCIS)
  • The Office of Court Interpreter Services was
    established with the premise that all
    persons within the Commonwealth, regardless of
    their literacy or proficiency in the English
    language, have the right to equal access to the
    courts and to justice, and have the right to
    access all of the services and programs provided
    in court facilities.

G.L. c. 221C
  • 1.02 All persons within the Commonwealth,
    regardless of their literacy or proficiency in
    the English language, have the right to equal
    access to the courts and to justice, and have the
    right to access all of the services and programs
    provided in court facilities.
  • 1.03 A Limited English Proficiency (LEP)
    individual1, throughout a legal proceeding, shall
    have a right to the assistance of a qualified
    interpreter who shall be appointed by the judge,
    unless the judge finds that no qualified
    interpreter of the LEP individuals language is
    reasonably available, in which event the LEP
    individual shall have the right to a certified
    interpreter, who shall be appointed by the judge.
    G.L. c. 221C,

Office of Civil Rights
  • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
    prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or
    national origin in programs or activities
    receiving federal financial assistance. All
    federal agencies that provided grants of
    assistance are required to enforce the Title VI

  • Standards Procedures of the Office of Court
    Interpreter Services

Support Services Ongoing Access-Related Projects
  • Trial Court's Language Access Plan
  • Model Language Access Courthouse (Worcester)
  • Court Service Centers

Interpreter Services Support Services
Department http//trialcourtweb/admin/planning/int
erpreters.html http//
  • Standards and Procedures for Court
    Interpreter Services
  • Code of Professional Conduct for Court
    Interpreters of the Trial Court
  • Instructions FAQ for the Office of Court
    Interpreter Services
  • Resources for Users of Interpreter Services
  • United States District Court, Southern District
    of New York
  • Resources for Interpreters
  • Translated Court Forms
  • Multilingual Small Claims Forms
  • Notice of Linguistic Access
  • List of Interpreters
  • Request an Interpreter
  • To request an interpreter for a court proceeding
    please contact the court liaison in the
    appropriate court.
  • Application Information for Per Diem
    Applicants/Application Questionnaire
  • OCIS Forms
  • OCIS Mandatory Ethics Workshop and Exam

Interpreter Services Forms Support
Services http//trialcourtweb/admin/planning/ocisf
orms.html http//
  • OCIS Forms
  • Court Investigator Interpreter Request Form
  • Cancellation Form
  • Complaint Form
  • Daily Service Record
  • Updated 5/27/11
  • Daily Service Record for American Sign
    Language Interpreters
  • Request for Interpreter

Services Provided by OCIS
  • Court Interpreters for criminal and civil matters
  • Requests administered through MassCourts
  • Phone Interpretation Services
  • ASL(sign language) interpreter services
  • Training/Support in using interpreter services
  • New
  • -Translation of official court documents
  • -Video Remote Interpretation services to
  • be implemented

OCIS Interpreter Resources
  • 25 Staff Interpreters
  • 5 Portuguese
  • 1 Cambodian (Khmer)
  • 17 Spanish
  • 1 Vietnamese
  • 1 Haitian Creole
  • 180 Per Diem Interpreters
  • 70 languages


Courts With Staff Interpreters March
  • Salem Spanish
  • Lowell Khmer, Spanish
  • Lawrence Spanish
  • Hampden Superior Spanish
  • Springfield Spanish
  • Holyoke Spanish
  • Framingham Portuguese
  • Worcester Spanish
  • Roxbury Spanish
  • Suffolk Superior Spanish
  • Dorchester Vietnamese, Haitian Creole
  • Chelsea Spanish
  • East Boston Spanish
  • New Bedford Spanish
  • Fall River Spanish
  • Brockton Spanish
  • Taunton Portuguese
  • Barnstable Portuguese

To obtain interpreter services in court
  • Identify and contact the court's liaison to
    request interpretation services, or inquire at
    the clerks' office or directly with the session's
  • Check with the court's on-site interpreters'
    office, if available.
  • Use the I Speak card to identify language.

Requesting Phone Interpreting Services Through
OCIS (New)
  • For immediate service
  • Call OCIS at 617-878-0269 to be connected to
  • In advance
  • Call or fax-in a request.
  • Fax 617-367-9293

Translated court forms already available On-line
(as of March 2014)
  • Under District Court's Forms
  • Small Claims forms
  • Chinese
  • Haitian Creole
  • Khmer
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Vietnamese
  • Under Probate and Family Court's Forms
  • Financial Statement short form Form in
    Spanish Form in Portuguese
  • Under Self Help Center
  • Getting Ready for Your Day in Court (3 pages) -
    Information from Representing Yourself in a Civil
    Case, on how to prepare for court, how to conduct
    yourself in the courtroom and what you should to
    do if you don't speak English very well. gtgt
    English gtgt Portuguese gtgt Spanish
  • Coming Soon
  • 209A forms (8 languages)
  • Waiver of Rights/Tender of Plea (Green Sheet)

Other Resources List of OCIS Interpreters
  • OCIS maintains a list of staff and per diem
    interpreters, certified and screened to
    facilitate access to the courts for Limited
    English Proficient (LEP) individuals.
  • In addition, OCIS provides general access to
    interpreter services by making this list public
    so it can be used by attorneys and other legal or
    law-related entities that seek assistance in
    obtaining qualified interpreters.
  • http//

Special circumstances may apply when scheduling
languages of lesser diffusion, such as
  • Kpelle (Liberia)
  • Ibo (Nigeria)
  • Fuzhou (China)
  • Krahn (Nigeria, Congo)
  • Malay (Malaysia)
  • Tamil (Malaysia,
  • Shri Lanka,etc.)
  • Dinka (Sudan)
  • Hmong (China, Laos, etc.)
  • Fulani
  • Karen (Myanmar)
  • Mizo Chin (Myanmar, India)
  • Burmese (Myanmar-formerly Burma)

Quick Guide for Working With Interpreters
  • Speak directly to the LEP person.
  • Avoid acronyms, technical languages, jokes or
  • Be patient.
  • Clarify any term the interpreter or the LEP party
    doesnt understand.
  • Understand that court interpreters are not
    advocates, attorneys, administrative staff or
    friends of the LEP parties.
  • Use the court interpreters time wisely he/she
    may need to cover another court after yours.

1 Speaking to an LEP party through an
  • Do not say to the interpreter
  • Tell her that she needs to bring in her daughter
  • Instead, say to the LEP party directly
  • Ms.---, you need to bring in your daughter

2 Speaking to an LEP party through an
  • To avoid confusion, do not say
  • to the LEP party through the
  • interpreter
  • On 4/6 you came to court seeking a restraining
    order, right?
  • Instead, say
  • On April 6th you came to court seeking a
    restraining order, right?

3 Speaking to an LEP party through an
  • The interpreter will not say
  • She says her daughter is not staying with her
    right now
  • Instead, the interpreter will say
  • My daughter is not staying with me right now.

Helpful Tips for Working with and Over-the-Phone
  • Brief the interpreter to provide context.
  • Speak directly to the customer.
  • Speak naturally, not louder.
  • Speak in one sentence or two short ones at a
  • Address any clarifications.
  • Ask if the LEP understands.
  • Do not ask interpreters for their opinion.
  • Avoid jargon, acronyms or technical terms.
  • Close the call.
  • (From
  • LanguageLine Solutions)

Assignment Protocols
  • Per Diem interpreters must be signed-in and
    signed-out for the morning or the day (Daily
    Service Record).
  • They are generally not assigned to work during
    lunch-time, except when specified on the request.
  • Both per diem and staff interpreters will carry a
    court-issued ID.
  • Many will be covering more than one court that

Be mindful about the following
  • Avoid using children.
  • With 209A matters never use the alleged abuser
    or members of his/her family.
  • Watch out for rogue interpreters who charge LEP
    parties for services offered by OCIS.
  • Do not ask interpreters to help LEP parties fill
    out forms. They can only orally translate their
  • Please, call or fax OCIS to inform them of

Focus Questions
  • What is Court Interpreting?
  • Is the Court Interpreter's role to make sure LEP
    parties understand their court or legal process?
  • OCIS Interpreters

On Court Interpreting
  • Means orally transferring a message rendered by
    the speaker into the language of the listener,
    without adding, improving, changing, omitting
    content and context, and preserving tone and
    intent of the speaker.
  • It is not just replacing a word for another.
  • It demands a deep understanding of both languages
    and subject matter.
  • It requires constant analysis and mental focus.

  • The Court Interpreter's role is to ensure equal
    linguistic access for LEP parties in court to
    make them linguistically present throughout their
    legal process. However, it is not their role to
    ensure LEP parties' understanding of the process.
    Their role is to enable LEP parties
  • to hear everything said regarding their legal
  • to communicate with English-speaking parties
    effectively and transparently.

Professional qualifications and skills required
to excel as a Court Interpreter

  • College degree (B.A. )
  • Superior language proficiency
  • Understanding of translation/interpretation
  • Knowledge of both legal systems (Source/Target)
  • Interpreting skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Ability to multi-task
  • Communication skills
  • Cultural competency

Professionally-Trained Interpreters
  • Interpret Simultaneously
  • Interpret Consecutively
  • Sight (orally) Translate Documents
  • These are professional skills that need to be
  • learned.

Screened and Certified Interpreters
  • OCIS recruits and trains interpreters who
    provide interpreting services to the Trial Court
    throughout the Commonwealth.
  • This specialized training leads to two levels of
    accreditation screened and
  • Generally, interpreters begin working for OCIS as
    screened interpreters and, upon accumulation of
    interpreting expertise, progress toward the
    higher accreditation level of certified.
  • Certification is most often achieved by passing
    written and oral exams.
  • In some languages there are no certified

Court Interpreter Certification v.
Academic/Training Certificate
A certificate received upon finishing an
academic certificate program in interpretation
or translation is not recognized as an official
court certification credential.
On Interpreter Certification
  • In the USA, official court interpreter
    certification is
  • currently issued by
  • A state Trial Courts interpreters program,
    such as OCIS (Various languages)
  • The Federal Courts interpreters program
  • (Spanish, Haitian-Creole, Navajo)
  • The National Association of Judiciary
    Interpreters (NAJIT) (Spanish)

Code of Professional Conduct
  • Accuracy
  • Impartiality
  • Confidentiality
  • Avoidance of Conflict of Interest
  • Proficiency
  • Duty to inform the court of difficulty to perform
    their duties.
  • Duty to correct errors in their interpretation.
  • Should only act as language facilitators, not as

Appropriate Interventions (not Advocacy) from
Court Interpreters
  • To clarify meaning or to open a window that may
    prompt others to solve breakdowns in
  • To correct interpretation errors.
  • To instruct others of impediments to their
  • To request assistance from the Court in
    ethically-challenging scenarios.
  • To inform LEP and English-speaking parties of
    their standards of practice.


What are some of the risks in using
  • Untrained, unqualified interpreters in court?
    Outside of court?
  • Family members or members of the LEP's community?

Monitoring the interpreter's performance
The interpreter renders the LEP partys long
answer with a couple of words.
Monitoring the interpreter's performance
You notice the interpreter chatting with the LEP
party in their own language too often.
Working With Ad Hoc Interpreters
  • Check for familiarity with concepts involved.
    (share forms, glossaries, reports, etc.)
  • Check for and monitor ethical standards
    accuracy, impartiality, completeness and
  • Assess the ad hocs linguistic ability.
  • Agree on interpretation mode(s).
  • Encourage interpreter to ask you for
    clarification of any terms you use.

Problems with phone interpretation
  • The interpreter takes over.
  • The interpreter and/or the LEP party are
    intimidated by the call.
  • The interpreter doesnt have enough context or
    information about the matter at hand.
  • The interpreter from LanguageLine is not local
  • Technical difficulties
  • Confusion as to who's who

(No Transcript)
Seating arrangement
  • Who needs the interpreter?
  • Maintain direct communication with your LEP
  • Discourage private communications between
    interpreters and LEP parties.

Troubleshooting Recap
  • Monitor interpreters' performance.
  • Intervene if necessary.
  • Clarify terminology.
  • Provide interpreters with context/basic
  • Monitor your own delivery for speed, clarity,

Challenges in achieving accuracy
  • idioms
  • jokes
  • slang
  • culturally-specific expressions or concepts
  • false cognates
  • ambiguous language
  • legalese
  • acronyms
  • no direct equivalent concept

Think of these examples
  • She hid the gun in the lazy Susan.
  • Hes been around the block a few times, he knows!
  • Are you going to beat around the bush again, Mr.
  • Your Honor, he was CWOF'd out of West Roxbury
    last month.
  • Mr. Gardner was violated on charges of DWL while
    on probation.

  • Arraignment
  • Thawj zaug tsev hais plaub teem caij rau tus neeg
    txhaum plaub mus ntsib xam uas nus yuav txais
    daim ntawv foob, lwm yam lus, thiab xam yuav qhia
    nus txoj cai rau nus

False Cognates
  • Ese día mi hermano nos había estado molestando
    toda la mañana.
  • Carla estaba constipada y se sentía fatal.
  • That day my brother had been pestering/
    bothering/teasing us all morning.
  • Carla was all stuffed-up/congested and she felt

False Cognates
  • A pesar de su disgusto, Elena fue simpática con
    sus suegros durante la cena.
  • Cuando salió de la oficina se le veía muy
  • Despite her anger, Elena was nice to her in-laws
    during dinner.
  • When he came out of the office he seemed very