The Life Changing Work of a Court Interpreter
It can’t be emphasized enough how important the work of legal interpreters is. Without qualified linguists, people with limited English proficiency have found themselves at the hands of the U.S. legal system - at times for completely unjust reasons. Without proper representation, defendants with limited English proficiency don’t have a chance to defend themselves, or at times fully understand what they are being charged for. Near disastrous legal outcomes can result when poor interpreting is provided, and when it isn’t provided at all.
A Poor Court Interpreter Will Lead To Longer Trials and Confusion
Not all legal interpreters are qualified, and often there are stories about poor interpreting, and high turnover of court interpreters for a single case. Take the recent case of convicted murderer and former Olympian Oscar Pistorius. His case in 2014 took place in South Africa, and required interpretation from Afrikaans to English. However, the interpretation ran into numerous problems. The first interpreter never showed up to court, and the second interpreter was criticized for lack of accuracy. A third interpreter appeared in court, but was also criticized due to accuracy and difficulties with the lawyers being able to understand her. This created a series of delays, and confusion about the proceedings of the case that should not have happened.
Luckily, a qualified court interpreter can make life changing differences in the lives of their clients. The following example demonstrates just how important it is to always be provided with a qualified interpreter – or else risk your freedom.
A Case of Mistaken Custody
A woman in an abusive relationship was so severely injured that she and her children were taken to the hospital. The woman did not want to press charges, so there was no legal record of her husband abusing her, nor was he arrested for domestic violence. However, the woman did have to determine custody for her children – unfortunately because she did not speak enough English to understand that the documents she ultimately signed gave her abusive ex-husband custody of the children, supported by child support paid by her.
She followed these documents for several months as she was still recovering, and was focusing most of her time on working to regain custody of her children. However, the child support payments she made were done with cash, and there was no record of them. Soon, with no record of the cash payments being made, her ex sued her for child support, and she was subject to restraining orders and potential jail time.
It was not until she hired a professional court interpreter that she was able to fully understand the legal situation she had gotten into, and was then able to fight it properly in court. Although she remained liable for the months of child support that had gone on without record, she was able to clearly argue her right for custody through her interpreter, avoided jail time and was eventually reunited with her children.
This Is A Potential Reality For All LEP Individuals Without A Legal Interpreter
Court interpreters have the power to change the lives of people unjustly affected by the law – but only if they are qualified and provided. As the level of bilingual individuals continues to rise in the United States, it is inevitable that more cases will be brought to court where the defendant is an LEP individual. As such, in order to provide due representation, more qualified court interpreters will be needed. This isn’t a situation unique to the United States either – even U.S. residents abroad could run the risk of getting into serious legal trouble in a foreign country where they do not speak the native language, if a professional legal interpreter is not provided.
How To Become A Qualified Legal Interpreter
In order to fill the growing demand for court interpreters, more bilingual individuals will need to undergo the extensive training and qualifications to become legal linguists. The best way to prepare for such qualifications is through a legal interpreter training program. Language Connections offers a 7 week training program covering the fundamentals of becoming a court interpreter, the legal interpreter’s code of ethics, and practices real life scenarios of legal interpreting. All courses are taught by professional legal interpreters.
The demand for qualified legal interpreting will not be decreasing. To ensure that more lives are changed for the better, and that justice is served fairly regardless of the language a person speaks, get started on your Legal interpreter training today!
Get the necessary, in person training in order to become a competent professional interpreter. Register now for one of our upcoming Legal Interpreter Training courses.
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