During Judge Peeples’ presentation she introduced Becky Guzman, an attorney at the Franklin County Public Defender’s office. Becky warned the room to be aware of voir dire, rules of superintendence, and the interpreter code of ethics. We interpreters must rattle off that information during the qualification portion of a proceeding.
Here’s something to review when you arrive at court. Read over the sample voir dire questions and be prepared when Hizzoner inquires (see attached). Are you familiar with the NAJIT Code of Ethics? Remember that all eyes are on you and you must gain the trust of all involved. Try to find a way to keep the list on your mental hard drive: accuracy, impartiality and conflicts of interest, confidentiality, limitations of practice, protocol and demeanor, maintenance and improvement of skills and knowledge, accurate representation of credentials and impediments to compliance.
Have you interpreted before? What type of cases? “Your Honor, the interpreter interpreted depositions, trials, civil matters and arraignments and pretrial hearings in this court.” Also prepare your credentials beforehand: “I obtained a MA in Translation from Kent State and am a TN/OH State Certified Court Interpreter (fill in the blank)”.
Years ago I worked regularly in Summit County courts. I hadn’t interpreted before Judge XXX before and expected to breeze through the hearing without a hitch. Lo and behold Your Honor put me through a thorough voir dire. Throughout I wondered “Doesn’t this guy know who I am? Doesn’t he trust me? I’ve worked for many of his colleagues. What’s going on here?” Little did I realize that he merely needed to qualify me and assure the record is preserved. Know what? My bad. I hadn’t prepared the answers ahead of time and tried to blame him (this thought took place at the same time I humbly answered the questions.)
A SHOUT OUT
A big “muchas thank you” to Bruno Romero, Program Manager of Interpreter Services Program Supreme Court of Ohio. He prepared and disseminated the attached bench card “Working with Foreign Language Interpreters in the Courtroom.” You might keep copies at hand and politely ask, “Your Honor, may I approach?” to offer the bench a copy.
Good words to you.