What does a court interpreter do, and why do I need one?
The relatively new field of interpretation in the courtroom is exciting, exacting, and is an essential component of our judicial system. Yet, because of its newness, the role of the court interpreter is often misunderstood. In a nutshell:
Court interpreters put non-English speakers on equal footing with English-speaking parties who come before the courts, and who interact with law enforcement, and other governmental or official agencies.
Our Constitution guarantees defendants the right to be present in court proceedings.
Defendants, witnesses, victims and others who cannot understand the language of the court, cannot participate as they should. We must ensure that complete understanding actually takes place--and court interpreters are a fundamental conduit for that understanding.
Court interpreters capture everything said on the record in the courtroom, and transmit it into the target language. We interpret between parties and their attorneys in their confidential meetings. We also interpret for law enforcement, prosecutors, and defense attorneys in their dealings with witnesses, etc. We prepare bilingual transcripts of audio or video recordings, and translations of court documents.
Whether communication takes place in a lofty federal courtroom, an attorney's office, a police interview room, or in a local jail, only a trained, professional, certified or otherwise linguistically qualified interpreter will guarantee detailed and nuanced communication. Only a trained, professional interpreter will have the competence and ethical knowledge to guarantee the integrity of the process from beginning to its ultimate resolution.
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