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Court Interpreter Issues for Clerks of Court May/June 2011

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Title: Court Interpreter Issues for Clerks of Court May/June 2011


1
Court Interpreter Issues for Clerks of
Court May/June 2011
2
Introduction
  • Supreme Court Rule 41 states
  • Any persons who come before the courts are
    partially or completely excluded from full
    participation in the proceedings due to limited
    English proficiency (LEP).
  • It is essential that the resulting
    communication barrier be removed, as far as
    possible, so that these persons are placed in the
    same position as similarly situated persons for
    whom there is no such barrier.

3
Introduction cont.
  • As officers of the court, interpreters help
    assure that such persons may enjoy equal access
    to justice and that court proceedings and court
    support services function efficiently and
    effectively. Interpreters are highly skilled
    professionals who fulfill an essential role in
    the administration of justice.

4
The Role of an Interpreter
  • To render a complete and accurate interpretation
    or translation without altering, omitting, or
    adding anything to what is stated or written, and
    without explanation.
  • Interpret in this context does not mean
    explain. It means providing an equivalent meaning
    in the target language as the one stated in the
    source language.

5
The Role of an Interpreter Cont.
  • It is not the job of the interpreter to explain
    anything independent of what is being said by
    participants in the courtroom proceedings.
  • It is not the interpreters job to give advice to
    or otherwise counsel the non-English speaker in
    court, and it would be unethical for the
    interpreter to provide services other than
    interpreting from one language to another.

6
What kind of skills does it take to become a
court interpreter?
  • Being bilingual is not sufficient. The level of
    expertise required for court interpreting is much
    greater than that required in everyday
    conversation.

7
What kind of skills does it take to become a
court interpreter?
  • The interpreter must also possess excellent
    mental skills, including the ability to
    accurately convert the source language into the
    target language and vice versa, often with only
    an instant to choose the equivalent words and
    phrases.

8
Interpreter Skills cont.
  • If the court testimony to be interpreted is
    shocking or traumatic, the interpreter must be
    able to perform the interpreting function without
    reacting or becoming emotionally involved.

9
Interpreter Skills cont.
  • Court interpretation is a specialized and highly
    demanding form of interpreting. It requires
    skills that few bilingual individuals possess,
    including language instructors. The knowledge
    and skills of a court interpreter differ
    substantially from or exceed those required in
    other interpretation settings, including social
    service, medical, diplomatic, and conference
    interpreting.

10
Interpreter Skills cont.
  • Due to the highly specialized knowledge and
    skills required in this profession, the Tennessee
    Supreme Court has promulgated rules to adopt
    uniform qualifications for interpreters serving
    in Tennessee's courts.

11
Appointing an Interpreter
  • Appointing an interpreter is a matter of
    judicial discretion. The court shall, pursuant to
    SCR 42, appoint an interpreter according to the
    following preferences
  • (1) Certified
  • (2) Registered
  • (3) Non-Credentialed

12
Certified vs. Registered
  • Have passed the three-part oral exam including
    sight, consecutive, and simultaneous translation.
  • Is qualified to teach or administer interpreter
    ethics and skill building workshops.
  • Have passed the oral proficiency interview with
    score of Superior.
  • Have taken, but not passed all three parts of the
    oral exam.

13
Registered vs. Non-credentialed
  • Have passed the oral proficiency interview with
    score of Superior.
  • Have taken, but not passed all three parts of the
    oral exam.
  • Have not taken or passed the oral proficiency
    interview.
  • Have not taken written exam.
  • Have not attended the ethics and skill building
    workshop.

14
When to appoint a non-credentialed interpreter
  • The court may appoint an interpreter of lesser
    preference (i.e., registered instead of certified
    or non- credentialed instead of registered) only
    upon a finding that diligent, good faith efforts
    to obtain the certified or registered
    interpreter, as the case may be, have been made
    and none has been found to be reasonably
    available.

15
When to appoint a non-credentialed interpreter
  • A non-credentialed interpreter may be appointed
    only after the court has evaluated the totality
    of the circumstances including the gravity of the
    judicial proceeding and the potential penalty or
    consequence involved.

16
Before appointing a non-credentialed interpreter,
the court shall make the following findings
  • (i) that the proposed interpreter appears to have
    adequate language skills, knowledge of
    interpreting techniques, familiarity with
    interpreting in a court setting and
  • (ii) that the proposed interpreter has read,
    understands, and will abide by the Rules of
    Ethics for Spoken Foreign Language Interpreters
    in Tennessee Courts.

17
Before appointing a non-credentialed interpreter,
the court shall make one last finding
  • (f) A summary of the efforts made to obtain a
    certified or registered interpreter and to
    determine the capabilities of the proposed
    non-credentialed interpreter shall be made in
    open court.

18
When to Appoint Multiple Interpreters
  • For legal proceedings lasting more than two (2)
    hours, a team of two interpreters should be
    designated to ensure accuracy and completeness of
    the record by allowing interpreters to alternate
    work and rest in short shifts for proceedings
    lasting more than two (2) hours.

19
Finding an Interpreter
  • Interpreter information can be found on the AOC
    webpage under Programs.
  • You will be able to find an interpreter by
    language desired by location (city or
    availability) or by level of certification
    (certified/registered).  You can also use a
    combination of these options. 

20
Using the Website to Find an Interpreter
  • If you would like to locate a Certified Spanish
    interpreter, simply select Spanish as the
    language and select Certified as the
    credential.  Press the Apply button and a list
    of certified interpreters will be provided in
    city order.

21
Using the Website to Find an Interpreter
  • If you would like to locate an Arabic Interpreter
    located in Middle TN, select Arabic as the
    language and select Middle TN for
    availability.  Press the Apply button and a
    list of Arabic interpreters in Middle TN will be
    provided.
  • If you would like a list of all interpreters in
    Memphis, enter Memphis as the city and press
    the Apply button.

22
What if there is no listing of an Interpreter in
the Language Needed ?
  • If there are no interpreters listed for the
    needed language, please contact the
    Administrative Office of the Courts at
    615-741-2687 for assistance.

23
Any of the following actions shall be good cause
for a judge to remove an interpreter from a case
  • (1) Incompetence
  • (2) Being unable to interpret adequately,
    including where the interpreter self-reports such
    inability
  • (3) Knowingly and willfully making false,
    misleading, or incomplete interpretation while
    serving in an official capacity

24
Any of the following actions shall be good cause
for a judge to remove an interpreter from a case
  • (4) Knowingly and willfully disclosing
    confidential or privileged information obtained
    while serving in an official capacity
  • (5) Misrepresentation of credentials
  • (6) Failure to reveal potential conflicts of
    interest or
  • (7) Failing to follow other standards prescribed
    by law and the Rules

25
Interpreter Photo ID Cards
The Administrative Office of the Courts
distributes photo identification cards to all
state certified and registered interpreters. A
court can determine an interpreters
credentialing status by viewing this card, which
differentiates between registered and certified
interpreters, and by consulting the credentialed
interpreter roster, which can be found on the
AOCs website (www.tncourts.gov ).
26
Responsibility for Obtaining an Interpreter
Protocol should be established with the clerks
office, judicial secretary, attorneys, etc. for
both civil and criminal cases
Clerks Office
Attorney
Secretary
27
Rules that Govern the Appointment, Credentialing,
and Compensation of Interpreters
Tenn. R. Crim. P. 28 Tenn. S. Ct. Rules 13, 41,
and 42 Tenn. R. Civ. P. 54 Tenn. R. Evid.
604 Tenn. Code Ann. 16-3-813
28
Clerks Info/Guidance Cards
  • AOC has produced Informational Guidance Cards
    for clerks
  • Provided at last years spring conferences to all
    the elected clerks.
  • You can get a copy on the AOC website
    http//www.tncourts.gov/programs/court-interpreter
    s
  • On the right hand side of the page is a link.

29
Unacceptable examples for using an interpreter
  • Finding someone who works across the street at
    the Mexican restaurant because an interpreter is
    needed on a short notice
  • Previously retired bailiff that has minimal
    foreign language skills, but understands a little
    Spanish
  • Relatives or friends of the defendant
  • Someone who volunteers at the courthouse and
    speaks Spanish

When non-credentialed interpreters are used,
there is a high possibility of misinterpretation
that can directly affect the outcome of a case.
30
Unacceptable examples for using an interpreter
cont.
  • Inmates
  • Probation officers
  • Defendants attorney

31
Simultaneous Interpreter Equipment
  • Each judicial district has been issued
    simultaneous interpreter equipment.
  • If you cannot locate the equipment in your
    district, please check with all judges in the
    district, or contact Mary Rose Zingale at the
    AOC.

32
Using Court Personnel and Law Enforcement as
Interpreters
  • SCR 41 Cannon 3 Situations, including but not
    limited to the following, shall be presumed to
    create an actual or apparent conflict of interest
  • The interpreter is a friend, associate, or
    relative of a party or counsel for a party
    involved in the proceedings
  • (2) The interpreter has served in an
    investigative capacity for any party involved in
    the case
  • (3) The interpreter has previously been retained
    by a law enforcement agency or any party to
    assist in the preparation of the case at issue

33
Using Court Personnel and Law Enforcement as
Interpreters cont.
  • (4) The interpreter or the interpreter's spouse
    or child has a financial interest in the subject
    matter in controversy or is a party to the
    proceeding, or any other interest that would be
    affected by the outcome of the case
  • (5) The interpreter has been involved in the
    choice of counsel or law firm for that case or
  • (6) Any other situation in which the interpreter
    thinks his or her impartiality may be questioned
    or compromised.

34
Consecutive and Simultaneous Exercises
35
QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS?
  • For assistance in finding an interpreter or
    answering questions on foreign language
    interpreters, please call
  • Mary Rose Zingale
  • AOC Court Services Director
  • 615-741-2687, Ext. 1350
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