On June 20th in Akron novice and seasoned court interpreters met to learn skills requisite in the legal arena. I presented tips on the pre-session, the criminal justice system and language on how to address the court to assure we stay within the bounds of our code. We also performed dual task exercises and shadowing with an eye to pass the upcoming OH State Court Certified Interpreter exam. Mr. Bruno Romero, Language Services Coordinator at the Ohio Supreme Court, encouraged participants to practice regularly to increase the chance of passing grade and reminded us to educate judges, bailiffs and all court personnel what the interpreter can and cannot do. The National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators provides position papers and a code of ethics that I still hand out to this day to explain our role. Visit the Ohio Supreme Court website (see below) to print copies of the latest bench card. We are the language professionals and owe it to ourselves to present as such.
Part of the workshop included ethical conundrums an interpreter faces in open court. What happens when a defendant whispers an untoward comment under his breath at counsel table? Is the interpreter obligated to interpret what she hears? Or, does she merely sit aside? Whisper the same comment in the target language? I encouraged everyone to develop her own set of ethics that are neither black nor white. Can I hear from colleagues out there of what they might do when someone whispers in court?
Language Services Programs http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/JCS/interpreterSvcs/default.asp
Community and Court Interpreters of Ohio http://www.ccio.org
National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators http://www.najit.org