If you need an interpreter for a legal proceeding, it's important that you familiarize yourself with what an interpreter can and cannot do, and the certification needed.
Court interpreters are certified. In California, the Judicial Council of California issues photo identification to every certified interpreter (or registered, if the language is not certifiable). You can always ask to see it. It is important that you request to state the certification number on the record so that you can protect yourself from an appeal based on the use of an unqualified interpreter. It's sad to see how some attorneys assume that their interpreters are certified.
Certified court interpreters abide by a Code of Ethics. You may read the specifics from California here:http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/CIP-Ethics-Manual.pdf. When you hire a certified court interpreter, you're hiring a professional who has the ethical responsibility of being accurate. The Interpreter has the duty to ensure the interpretation on record is clear and concise.
Certified court interpreters have Professional Standards. http://www.courts.ca.gov/cms/rules/index.cfm?title=two&linkid=rule2_890
The interpreter will adhere to courtroom decorum and should never speak out of turn. Whenever clarification is necessary, the interpreter will speak in the third person. For instance, "the interpreter needs the question repeated", thus making a clear record. The interpreter’s main concern is the accuracy of the interpretation on the record, not which side prevails.
Make a specific request for a certified court interpreter when calling a Language Service provider. Unfortunately, an agency may not provide a certified interpreter unless you state so specifically.
Certified court interpreters need to be prepared. Just like you need to familiarize yourself with a case in order to be better prepared, an interpreter will benefit if s/he knows the subject matter. If at a trial or a hearing where you'll be calling witnesses, the interpreter needs to know ahead of time the subject matter, full name of the witnesses and street names that will be used, and anything else that could be problematic when interpreting. The interpreter will need a few moments to speak with the witness, introduce herself to the witness and telling him what his/her role is as an interpreter. This allows both parties to accustom themselves to accents and the interpreter can gauge the level of understanding of the witness. This is done for the sole purpose of selecting words in Spanish that can facilitate communication between the witness and the interpreter and not necessarily to change the register used.
It's a good idea, if at all possible, to always have the same interpreter available for your proceedings for consistency. You can request an interpreter by name if you like his/her work. Interpreters appreciate special requests. You’ll develop a better working relationship if you feel comfortable with your certified court interpreter.
I was born in Cuba and came to the States with my parents and siblings at the age of 10. I grew up in a monolingual home since my parents only spoke Spanish. I moved to California and my Spanish was further influenced by the large Mexican community.
What can an interpreter do?
Call: 310-890-3129 - Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Expert witness testimony
In-booth interpreting (simultaneous)
Q & A sessions
Round table meetings
Radio and TV news
Familiarity with SAP
Coaching for Cuban, neutral, and
Cultural sensitivity consulting