September 5, 2008
Supreme Court Produces Training Video for Court Interpreters
A training video for judges and new court interpreters on the proper use of interpreters is now available, the Supreme Court of Ohio announced today.
The Supreme Court’s Interpreter Services Program designed the video to complement other resources for courts in understanding and monitoring court interpreters to ensure the due process rights of non-English speaking litigants in Ohio’s courts. The video was shown for the first time Friday to members of the Advisory Committee on Interpreter Services, judicial staff, other state agency personnel, court interpreters and the video’s actors and producers.
More than 25,000 interpretations involving more than 70 different languages are performed every year in Ohio with Spanish as the most commonly interpreted language followed by American Sign Language.
The 49-minute video presents several scenarios to assist judges in determining whether a court interpreter can be effective. The video also exposes novice interpreters to some of the techniques, standards and tools to facilitate communication in a legal setting.
One scene depicts a court interpreter ineffectively summarizing a judge’s instructions to a defendant about giving up some rights by agreeing to a plea deal. Another scene shows how easily it can be for a court interpreter to cross the boundary of simply relaying information to actually providing legal counsel.
“The whole point in making this video was to provide judges and novice court interpreters with another training tool to increase the likelihood that non-English speaking litigants knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily understand their rights and comprehend the legal proceedings,” said Bruno Romero, Interpreter Services Program manager.
A few advance showings of the video in court interpreter training sessions produced feedback that’s overwhelmingly positive. Those viewing the video reported a good sense of what’s expected of a court interpreter and the fact that interpreters need to be prepared, trained and exhibit language skills as well as a familiarity with legal terminology and court proceedings.
The Supreme Court is distributing 1,000 copies of “The Role of Interpreters in the Legal System” as part of a package of integrated information that includes interpreter handbooks and bench cards for judges. Mills James Productions produced the video, which was finalized in July. Filming took place in January. The Ohio State Bar Foundation provided the funding for the project.