SUGGESTED GUIDE FOR
by Isabel Framer
To secure the rights, constitutional
and otherwise, of persons who, because of hearing, speech, or other impairment
a party to or witness in a legal proceeding cannot readily understand or
communicate, the court shall appoint a qualified interpreter to assist
such person. Before entering upon his duties, the interpreter shall take
an oath that he will make a true interpretation of the proceedings to the
party or witness, and that he will truly repeat the statements made by
such party or witness to the court, to the best of his ability. See ORC
2311.14 (B); 28 USC section 1827; Evidence Rule 604.
Administration of Oath
and Establishing Qualifications
Evidence Rule 604 provides
that the provisions of the rules relating to qualification of an expert
are applicable to interpreters. An expert is one qualified by knowledge,
experience, training or education. See Evidence Rule 702.
Do you solemnly swear or affirm that you
will interpret accurately, completely and impartially from the source language
into the target language, using your best skills and judgement in accordance
with the standards prescribed by law and the code of ethics for court interpreters;
follow all official guidelines established by this court for legal interpreting
or translating, and discharge all of the solemn duties and obligations
of legal interpretation and translation, so help you God.
Suggested Questions for
Please state your full name and prior experience,
training or education in court interpreting.
Have you interpreted for this type of hearing
or trial before?
How many times have you interpreted in court?
What types of hearings have you interpreted
Are you familiar with the legal terminology
from the English language into the target language? See State
v. Ramirez, 732 N.E.2d 1065, (Ohio App. 1999).
What prior education or training have you
had in court interpreting?
Are you able to interpret simultaneously and
consecutively without leaving out, changing or summarizing anything that
is said? (It is highly recommended that the summary mode should not be
used. See State v. Pina, 361 N.E.2d 262 (Ohio Ct. App. 1975))
State v. Ramirez, supra.
Do you know the parties or are you related
to any of the parties in this case?
Do you have a financial or other interest
in the outcome of this case?
Have you had the opportunity to speak with
the client to determine if there is any communication problem? (It is recommended
that the attorney be present during any communication between the interpreter
and a non-English speaking defendant or witness to avoid having the interpreter
become a potential witness. The interpreters should never carry on independent
communication with a witness or defendant. See State v. Fonseca,
705 N.E.2d 1278 at 1279 (Ohio App.11 Dist.1997).
To the Interpreter
Do you understand that while serving in an
official capacity you are bound by the attorney/client privilege and any
confidential information provided to you by any of the parties must be
Do you understand that you cannot give any
legal advice or interject your own personal opinions not related to language
expertise? See: State v. Rodriguez , 169 N.E.2d 444 (Ohio Ct. App. 1959),
State v. Ramirez, supra.
To the Attorneys
Are you satisfied with the qualifications
of the interpreter(s)?
To the Defendant(s)
Are you able to effectively communicate with
your attorney through the interpreter and are you able to understand the
interpretation provided to you by the interpreter?
For the Record
I find that the interpreter is a qualified
interpreter, that all parties have agreed to the qualifications of the
interpreter, and that the defendant is able to understand and communicate
through the interpretation provided by Mr./Mrs. _____. Therefore I will
appoint Mr./Mrs. as the interpreter on this case.
I will ask that all parties when speaking
directly to the defendant or witness speak in the first person and that
the interpreter when interpreting for a defendant or witness to respond
in the first person. The third person should be used only when the interpreter
is speaking for herself. Example: Your Honor the interpreter is unable
to hear the attorneys; Your Honor the interpreter would request a brief
moment to consult her dictionary.
See State v Pina, supra; State
v. Nieves, 1990 Ohio App. LEXIS 5561 at *3 (Ohio App. 11 Dist.1990);
State v. Fonseca, supra.
Answers to Frequently
During a trail and court proceedings it is
suggested to periodically ask a defendant if he/she has been able to understand
the interpretation provided and if he has been able to communicate adequately
with his attorney through the interpreter, specifically during plea entries.
It is suggested to ask a defendant to repeat
some of the information the judge has provided to see if the defendant
understands the interpretation. A defendant might not be able to repeat
exactly what the Judge has said but could provide a general idea of his
understanding. Also, the fact that a defendant may not understand does
not necessarily mean that the interpretation is error. A misunderstanding
could mean that the defendant is not able to grasp the concept of our judicial
system. Therefore, by inquiring further the Judge would have the opportunity
to explain in terms that a defendant could understand.
It is recommended that summary interpretation
not be used. Only unqualified interpreters who are unable to keep up in
the consecutive or simultaneous modes of interpretation most often use
it. Summary interpretation will not provide a defendant with a true and
accurate interpretation of court proceedings or testimony of a witness.
The simultaneous mode is used during all court
proceedings where the non-English speaking person is listening or for any
non-English speaking party when the judge is speaking directly to that
person without interruptions (e.g., trial, jury instructions, the
judge is speaking to an officer of the court or any other person other
than the defendant or witness, lengthy advisement of rights, and judges
remarks to a defendant at sentencing.)
Consecutive mode is used when a non-English
speaking person is giving testimony or when the judge or officer of the
court is communicating directly and is expecting responses.
Sight translation is the oral translation
of a written document into the target language. The interpreter must be
given a few minutes to review the document before translating.
It is suggested that friends and family members
not be used to provide interpretation in any legal setting. Friends and
family members are not neutral parties and might have an interest in the
outcome of the case. In addition they are not trained in court interpretation.
Being bilingual is not sufficient for being
a court interpreter. Court interpreting is a highly skilled profession
that requires training, education, experience and knowledge of legal terminology
in both languages.
It is recommended that attorneys not be used
to interpret court proceedings. Bilingual attorneys cannot function effectively
in their duty as attorneys and perform interpreter duties at the same time.
They are not trained or posses the skills required for court interpretation.
See State v. Sanchez, 1986 Ohio App. LEXIS 6536 , (Ohio App. 8 Dist.
For a trial or a very lengthy hearing or lengthy
multiple witnesses testimonies of non-English speaking parties, two interpreters
should be appointed in order to avoid mental fatigue. The United Nations
standards for conference interpreting (simultaneous mode) call for replacing
interpreters every 45 minutes. Court interpretation is more demanding than
conference interpreting. Studies have proven that even the most qualified
trained interpreter is unable to interpret adequately and that the quality
of interpretation will falter during lengthy hearings.
There is no state certification or certifying
body currently in the State of Ohio.
Language agencies do not certify interpreters.
Some language agencies do not qualify interpreters.
You may want to inquire as to the methods that an agency uses to screen
candidates for language proficiency and/or if they provide training for
Court interpreters are highly skilled professionals
who fulfill an essential role in assisting in the administration of justice.
Once interpreters are sworn in they become
officers of the court and should abide by all the rules pertaining to officers
of the court and their duty to interpret accurately.
Interpreters are and must always remain neutral
parties regardless of who has hired them. Interpreters are a communication
vehicle to assist all parties in communication and in the administration
of justice. All persons benefiting from the interpreting services are clients.
Interpreters cannot give legal or any other
advice to any of the parties.
Interpreters cannot serve as the interpreter
if they are acquainted to or related to the party nor have a monetary interest
or other interest in the outcome of the case.
Translation is the replacement of a written
text from one language into an equivalent written text in another language.
Interpretation is the oral translation of
a language into another language. Both require different skills, training
The information I am providing in this
outline is information that has been passed down to me through, NAJIT (The
National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators), NAJIT's
electronic discussion list of Federal, State Certified Interpreters and
Free-lance Interpreters, NCSC (The National Center for State Courts) and
from States that have implemented court interpreting standards and certification.
This information is only a suggested guide
and it is not my intent to interpret the law. If you have any questions
Interpreter and Translator