The Importance of Accuracy and Professionalism for Court Interpreters

Posted on: March 14th, 2016 by Suzanne Deliscar Add A Comment

It’s important that interpreters maintain a high level of professionalism to provide an accurate account, particularly in the legal setting where the stakes are high, lawyer-linguist Suzanne Deliscar tells

“Lawyers and their clients need the interpreters to interpret the words that are spoken and their interpretation has to be accurate,” she says. “Interpreters are a conduit in the legal setting and are not to interfere with the legal process itself.”

Deliscar says new trials have been ordered at great expense as a result of problematic interpretation and interpreters themselves have been reprimanded for poor behaviour in the court setting.

She weighs in on the issue in connection to two specific instances in the United States. In one case, the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously ordered a new trial for  a man from Gambia who was convicted of murder; his uncertified interpreter provided him with an inaccurate translation of the proceedings against him, says the Daily Report. The judge had ordered the new trial on the grounds that his interpreter did not give him a clear picture of what was happening at his trial, says the online publication.

In another instance, two interpreters were removed from a criminal matter after a defence lawyer argued for a mistrial because of “outrageous” conduct on the part of two Spanish language interpreters, who had made a joke about whether the lawyer’s client, who was charged with murder, wanted him to continue to represent her, reports the Bakersfield Californian.

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