Interpreter removed from trial for conversing with witness (US)

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United States
Local time: 03:44
English to Arabic
+ ...
Feb 18, 2010

Astonishing situation... and a defense lawyer's dream.

The judge should ban the agency which provided that incompetent and clueless interpreter [who also was apparently untrained or not oriented by that sending agency on suitable courtroom practice before presenting at the court] from further business with that court.

In view of the contamination of the interpreted testimony and the blatant misconduct of this interpreter, that judge will most likely grant the defense's motion for a mistrial.


Stephen H. Franke
English - Arabic,
Kurdish, and Persian
San Pedro, California


John Farebrother  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
French to English
+ ...
Feb 18, 2010

How did the court know that the interpreter was acting improperly? Who drew the judge's attention to the problem?


Teresa Borges
Local time: 11:44
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Feb 19, 2010

John, you raise a very interesting point! Who in fact drew the judge's attention?


Walter Landesman  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:44
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Feb 19, 2010

That`s a very good question indeed.


Liviu-Lee Roth
United States
Local time: 06:44
Romanian to English
+ ...
Feb 20, 2010

The judge did no tgrant the motion for mistrial, but the defendant was found not guilty by the jury. He is in INS custody in order to be deported. It seems that the interpreter, while interpreting one of the prosecution's questions, explained to the witness (victim) how to answer.... a no,no.


David Wright  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:44
German to English
+ ...
Feb 20, 2010

Well, given that the defendant also seems to have been Korean, I would imagine he drew his lawyer's attention to the matter.


Álvaro Degives-Más  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:44
English to Spanish
+ ...
Feb 20, 2010

There's a link that accompanies this post; it's often good practice to check the original article before making sweeping statements. According to the article, that interpreter was contracted via the Lake County court administration. Therefor, calling for a "ban" of that "agency" so as to bar it "from further business with that court" appears somewhat problematic.

As to how the alleged improper conduct could have been established, common sense provides the answer: upon observing that the interpreter addresses the witness and engages in communication unprompted. Very simple this.

However, I fully agree with Stephen Franke's implicit observation concerning the need for instruction of any unqualified court interpreter in adherence to the applicable code of conduct and professional responsibility.

Sadly, the state of Illinois is not a member of the Consortium for Language Access in the Courts (formerly the Consortium for State Court Interpreter Certification) which arguably is the easiest and most efficient route to implementing an objectively tenable and accountable qualification method for court interpreters. At this point, only the Cook County Circuit is a member of the CLAS; it follows that Lake County operates in a dangerous vacuum.

Finally, an observation about the importance of sticking to one's area of professional competence: assertions such as "that judge will most likely grant the defense’s motion for a mistrial" are a perilous assumption of knowledge of applicable laws and procedures. As that same article points out: "[Associate Judge George] Bridges denied the mistrial motion and said the victim would be recalled with a new interpreter."

Let's leave the legal opinions to the legal scholars, and stick to advocating for our profession, if we are to succeed as competent and properly credentialed court interpreters.

All respectfully submitted.icon_smile.gif


teju  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:44
English to Spanish
+ ...
Feb 21, 2010

My guess is that someone saw there was a conversation going on between the witness and the interpreter. Instead of hearing from the attorney, then the interpreter, the witness and then back to the interpreter, what they saw was attorney, interpreter, witness, interpreter, witness, interpreter... and so on. Unless the conversation took place, off the record, before the testimony and they were observed chatting. Either way it's very unethical. I would bet that it was someone from the defense team who raised the issue.


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Interpreter removed from trial for conversing with witness (US)

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