Tricky situation in respect of other interpreter in a court situation
Thread poster: Buzzy
Buzzy
Local time: 00:30
French to English
Nov 21, 2007

Hello all, I'd be interested in your comments on an uncomfortable situation I encountered recently.
I occasionally interpret for the local court and was recently called in for a hearing at the end of a long investigation I knew quite a bit about, as I had translated/interpreted on various occasions as it went on. Since there were several defendants, the court, with admirable and surprising foresight, had called in 3 interpreters.
Well, one of them never turned up (just as well we did!), but I made the acquaintance of the other - we had never met - and when things got going, the presiding judge told us she would start with my colleague and later move on to me, then alternate. Fair enough. But what happened is that once it was my turn (about ten minutes later), she simply never went back. The other interpreter was perfectly competent as far as I could see in terms of content - but really very slow, and I later found out that this was the reason they stayed with me for the rest of the hearing - there was another case waiting to be heard after us and they wanted to be as efficient as possible.
Even as I was interpreting away, I was wondering whether I should suggest handing back to the other interpreter, but didn't because a) I told myself it wasn't my place to tell the judge what to do, b) I was pretty sure I'd guessed the reason for her decision, and c) I was still concentrating OK: if I had felt I was "losing it" I would have had no hesitation in saying so. But at the end my colleague was fuming - if against me he didn't say so, but certainly against the judge. As far as I know he was never given an explanation. And I didn't feel very comfortable either!
Has anything similar ever happened to you? Should I have tried to show more solidarity? I lok forward to your opinions.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 19:30
English to Portuguese
+ ...
A dependable backup Nov 21, 2007

If they called three interpreters, and you almost did the whole job alone, it seems that the court felt it was absolutely essential to be more than well covered with translation at all times.

Though you were faster than the other interpreter, had you suddenly developed a sore throat, headache, diarrhea, whatever, they would switch back to him in no time. He was the safety net.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Agnieszka Hayward
Poland
Local time: 00:30
German to Polish
+ ...
Common practise AFAIK, not only in courts Nov 21, 2007


Though you were faster than the other interpreter, had you suddenly developed a sore throat, headache, diarrhea, whatever, they would switch back to him in no time. He was the safety net.


Precisely.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Nicholas Ferreira  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:30
Spanish to English
+ ...
It's a win-win situation Nov 21, 2007

He shouldn't be that upset anyway: if he's getting paid the full price just for sitting there and listening to you interpret, I don't know what he is complaining about. Those are some of the best types of jobs (as long as it doesn't happen too often!) I learn so much from seeing other people interpret.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Heidi C  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:30
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not really common sense... Nov 21, 2007

Well, the idea of having more than one interpreter is that you will alternate -just as if doing simultanous at a conference.

Maybe you were faster, and it is good you could do the whole thing without it affecting you. But the best thing would have been to alternate every 30 minutes or so...

But, of course, they always decide what they want to do...


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Stanislaw Czech, MCIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:30
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
I don't understand it Nov 21, 2007

Buzzy wrote:

Since there were several defendants, the court, with admirable and surprising foresight, had called in 3 interpreters.


I believe that inviting more than one interpreter in such situation is not a back up, it is also not done to provide interpreter with breaks. If there are several defendants there is a possibility of a conflict of interests and even though interpreter is not a party, and is sworn - still each defendant should have his own interpreter, just as he has his own solicitor and (in the UK) barrister.

So inviting 3 interpreter (because there are 3 defendants) and than using just one of them is:
a) waist of taxpayers' money,
b) unfair towards defendants

When it comes to the rage of another interpreter - honestly I think that it was a bit exaggerated - after all what really matters is that the job is done and we are paid

S


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Juliana Brown  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 18:30
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Just last week Nov 22, 2007

I was in a hearing situation before a tribunal, for an "assignment hearing" which is mostly form with little content. There was, however a lot of boring repetition and a large volume of people to deal with, so I was happy to see a second interpreter had been booked along with me.
We alternated about every half hour, not because of any preferences or problems, simply because we both found that in the windowless room we were falling asleep at the back when not working.
It was all very collegial, but I can think of a couple of collegues who would have asked whether they could leave, or whether I was needed, if they could handle it all.
In those situations, I try listen and learn, and take notes for terminology, while the other interpreter is working. It's like an unexpected paid training session...


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:30
English to Spanish
+ ...
Why I don't work in the courts Nov 22, 2007

Situations like the one mentioned here are one reason; I do not want my working conditions to be dictated by a judge who may be totally ignorant of what I need to do a proper job.

Direct link Reply with quote
 
teju  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:30
English to Spanish
+ ...
Comments Nov 22, 2007

Buzzy wrote: Has anything similar ever happened to you? Should I have tried to show more solidarity? I lok forward to your opinions.


Hi Buzzy, I interpret in court quite often, so I'll give you my two cents. You ask, should you have shown more solidarity with a person you had just met, and who was upset at the end of the hearing about something that wasn't even your fault? Absolutely not. More importantly, it wasn't your call to make. The judge is the one who decides how to proceed. What I try to do when I have the luxury of doing team interpreting, is to alternate during the breaks. But sometimes there are no breaks, and it's difficult to change interpreters in the middle of a proceeding. As a rule, in the area where I live, we only interpret in teams during trials. The judges are very familiar with the procedure, and I have never seen a judge get involved in the way we decide to divide the work. All of this is much easier when you know your colleague, and you've decided beforehand what you are going to do.
Having said all that, like Henry pointed out, we are still at the mercy of the judge's whims. You did nothing wrong, you've got nothing to feel bad about.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Buzzy
Local time: 00:30
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks all for your responses Nov 22, 2007

José is quite right of course that calling in more than one interpreter is common sense - but this situation was in a smalltown French court that rarely deals with such cases and it was an unusual step for them. I think they did it more to assign interpreter A to defendant A, etc, as Stanislaw suggests - even though they didn't then stick to that. None of the defendants, or indeed their lawyers, complained.

Henry and teju, I think the judge was being primarily pragmatic. I believe they only finished the second case at 9pm so she probably made the right decision! It's true though that it still shows ignorance of what an interpreter should be expected to do. I don't know if it's just our local court, but they never think to give any information in advance unless you ask for it - I'm trying to educate them...

Nicholas, yes, in the end the job was done and we both got paid - or will get paid eventually. But did you know that the court rate in France is... 13.26 euros an hour? So you could be more profitably employed elsewhere...


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:30
English to Spanish
+ ...
Reason No. 2 Nov 22, 2007

That's reason No.2 (there are more) for not doing court work, having low rates dictated to you instead of negotiating them yourself.

You could definitely be more profitably employed elsewhere.


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Tricky situation in respect of other interpreter in a court situation

Advanced search







SDL MultiTerm 2017
Guarantee a unified, consistent and high-quality translation with terminology software by the industry leaders.

SDL MultiTerm 2017 allows translators to create one central location to store and manage multilingual terminology, and with SDL MultiTerm Extract 2017 you can automatically create term lists from your existing documentation to save time.

More info »
CafeTran Espresso
You've never met a CAT tool this clever!

Translate faster & easier, using a sophisticated CAT tool built by a translator / developer. Accept jobs from clients who use SDL Trados, MemoQ, Wordfast & major CAT tools. Download and start using CafeTran Espresso -- for free

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search