A court interpreter plays a very vital role within the legal system. The contribution of legal and court interpreters help to make justice possible for those who have limited English Proficiency (LEP) and are living in a country that doesn’t speak their native language.
You might be reading this post and you’re currently in need of a court interpreter or know someone who does. Keep reading to find out 5 things you need to know when seeking to hire a court/legal interpreter.
Let’s dive right in.
Who is a Court/Legal Interpreter?
Court/Legal Interpreters translate dialogue between speakers from two different languages in a legal setting. Within the court system, lawyers, witnesses and defendants need a court interpreter if they have an LEP.
For example, someone who has to testify in front of a jury during a trial, but isn’t fluent in English, would need the aid of a court interpreter to orally translate everything that’s being said both ways.
Now that we have a general understanding of what legal/court interpreters do, let’s now get into 5 things we need to know before hiring one.
1. They Must be Certified
It’s not enough for an interpreter in the legal system to just be proficient in both languages required. As an interpreter within the legal system, they must have qualifications as well as some amount of experience.
This is because a Court/Legal Interpreter needs to understand all legal jargon. This makes their job much easier and helps the proceedings to run smoothly and everyone to be on the same page.
A key responsibility of a legal interpreter is neutrality. If you’re in a courtroom setting, the interpreter isn’t allowed to advise their clients or make any suggestions regarding the procedure at any point in time.
They must wear-in, as a symbol that they commit to honor the principles of the Court and the Code of Ethics for legal interpreters.
2. Accuracy is Non-Negotiable
A court interpreter has to pay special attention to the tone and connotation behind the original words that are spoken. Adding new information is not an option, neither is an option to omit anything that has been said.
It is the responsibility of the interpreter to fully translate everything from the original language (also known as the source language) to the target language without changing the words or altering the meaning of what’s being said. This demands the interpreter to have a level of extensive knowledge and a great vocabulary. Legal interpreters must always translate with exactitude and reflect the speaker’s input with a very high level of formality and professionalism.
3. Verify Which Type of Legal Interpreter You’ll Need
There are actually two types of interpreters within the legal sphere. They are as follows:
- Staff Court Interpreter: This type of interpreter is permanently employed at a courthouse. They should be knowledgeable of all local procedures and where necessary, advise the court on best practices involving everything that has to do with court interpreting.
- Per Diem Courtroom Interpreter: Diem court interpreter is an independent contractor. This type of interpreter works with different clients and in more than one courtroom. This means that they work on multiple court cases. They work only as needed and are paid by the hour or on a half day basis.
Being any one of these types of court interpreters doesn’t change the qualification requirements needed to carry out their job. There are however separate tests and certifications that may be required in addition to the basic requirements.
4. Determine WHEN Exactly You’ll Need the Interpreter
The moment it becomes evident that someone has any difficulty communicating or understanding the court proceeding by a lack of language proficiency, the court administrator or judge has to request that an interpreter is provided.
People who are in need of an interpreter do not always ask for one, either because of their lack of knowledge (they don’t know that’s an option) or because they’re unaware of their ignorance to what is being communicated during the court procedures.
5. Verify Their Experience
It’s of great importance to note that courtroom interpreters can be involved in other stages of the legal process and not just inside the courtroom during a trial or hearing. Investigations, for example, may require the presence of and expertise of a legal interpreter. There may be a case in which the authorities, the police, or immigration officials need their assistance for a particular case or they may be needed to interpret during attorney-client meetings or depositions.
If you are in need of expert court interpretation services, Day Interpreting is at your service. Additionally, you’re now more knowledgeable of when and where you may need a legal interpreter. Contact us today to get in touch with our legal interpreters’ team and of course, download the Day Interpreting app for on-demand interpreters.
Kayan is a multi-talented writer based in the beautiful island of Jamaica. Her strong point is ideation and she loves to take on new challenges.