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Lawyering Across Languages Volunteer Lawyers Project May 14, 2013
Presenter: LEONOR FIGUEROA-FEHER, PH. D. • • • Program Manager for Training, Office of Court Interpreter Services State/Federally-Certified Spanish Interpreter Trainer/Presenter
Points to consider: o o o o Interpreters and Meaningful Language Access Working with professionally-trained interpreters Working with volunteer (ad-hoc) interpreters: Troubleshooting Phone Interpreting: Troubleshooting Court Interpreters: Qualifications/ Skills Code of Professional Conduct: Scenarios Office of Court Interpreter Services
USING UNTRAINED INTERPRETERS OR BILINGUAL STAFF • How can attorneys monitor proficiency, impartiality and confidentiality? • Signs that should tell you: “Don’t use this person!” • Who should never be used as interpreter?
Mandates: • • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 221 C
Working With Court Interpreters
Levels of Advocacy Advocate Culture Broker Clarifier CONDUIT
Quick Guide for Working With Interpreters o o Speak directly to the LEP person. Don’t say “Tell him that…”. Avoid acronyms, technical language, jokes or idioms. Be patient. Clarify any term the interpreter or the LEP party doesn’t understand. Understand that court interpreters are not advocates, attorneys, law clerk, administrative staff, cultural consultants or friends of the LEP parties. o Let’s discuss!
Example: You are meeting with your LEP client in your office. The lady seems unwilling to address a financial issue with her husband. The interpreter is from her country and you wonder whether she would advise you as to the wife’s reluctance. o o Should you ask the interpreter to advise you? Why or why not? Would it depend on the situation? In what other way can you find out?
Examples: Incorrect o o Mme. Interpreter, please tell Mr. Chang that he needs to be here next Friday. Mr. Interpreter, can you call Ms. Lam and explain to her what will happen at the summary process hearing on Tuesday? Correct o Mr. Chang, you need to be here next Friday. o Mr. Interpreter, I need your help to call Ms. Lam to explain to her what will happen at the summary process hearing on Tuesday. Are you familiar with the term “summary process? ”
Code of Professional Conduct o o o Accuracy Impartiality Confidentiality Avoidance of Conflict of Interest Proficiency o o o Duty to inform the court of difficulty to perform their duties. Duty to correct errors in their interpretation. Can only act as language bridge.
Accuracy Capture meaning, register (level formality), form, intent and tone of the message. Cannot clean-up, simplify, improve, embellish or choose to omit content.
Register/Completeness “If I were to ask you who was your treating physician in the intervening period prior to your second accident, what would your response be? ” A non-accurate interpretation: “Who was you doctor before your second accident? ”
Challenges in achieving accuracy: § § § § § idioms jokes slang culturally-specific expressions or concepts false cognates ambiguous language legalese acronyms no direct equivalent concept
Challenges in Achieving Accuracy: No direct legal equivalent English>Hmong Arraignment Thawj zaug tsev hais plaub teem caij rau tus neeg txhaum plaub mus ntsib xam uas nus yuav txais daim ntawv foob, lwm yam lus, thiab xam yuav qhia nus txoj cai rau nus
Challenges in Achieving Accuracy: Legalese “Your Honor, Ms. Chan was violated on March 23 d. After a hearing, the conditions of her probation were reassessed. ”
Easy to translate? Did you stop cold turkey? Was is the street behind the Green Monster? Did the police find the gun in the lazy Susan? Now, now, is Miguelito the one wagging the dog here, Ms. Reyes? How upset did that make you feel?
Challenges in Achieving Accuracy: False Cognates • Ese día mi hermano nos había estado molestando toda la mañana. • A pesar de su disgusto, Elena fue simpática con sus suegros durante la cena.
False Cognates • Ese día mi hermano nos había estado molestando toda la mañana. o That day my brother had been pestering/ bothering/teasing us all morning.
False Cognates o A pesar de su disgusto, Elena fue simpática con sus suegros durante la cena. o Despite her anger, Elena was nice towards her in-laws during dinner.
Appropriate Interventions from Court Interpreters • • • To clarify meaning or to “open a window” that may prompt others to solve communication breakdowns. To correct interpretation errors. To instruct others of impediments to their performance. To request assistance from the Court in ethicallychallenging scenarios. To inform LEP and English-speaking parties of their standards of practice.
Scenarios Have you ever encountered issues with interpreters you would like to discuss?
Ethical Challenges for Court Interpreters Confidentiality o Impartiality o
Ethical Challenges for Court Interpreters Impartiality http: //www. youtube. com/watch? v=YSz. Zp. Gc. KLGI
Scenarios: CONFIDENTIALITY After assisting you and your LEP client, the interpreter is approached by a relative of the client outside of the court. The relative wants to know what was discussed inside, because she can help him. Q: Should the interpreter tell her?
Challenges With Languages of Lesser-Diffusion Recent “new” languages in MA: o Constant new immigration/refugee patterns Hmong (China, Laos, etc. ) Dinka (Sudan) Burmese (Myanmar-formerly Burma) o o Finding qualified applicants Limited training resources Karen (Myanmar) Mizo Chin (Myanmar, India) Kpelle (Liberia) Ibo (Nigeria) Fuzhou (China) Krahn (Nigeria, Congo) Malay (Malaysia) Tamil (Malaysia, Shri Lanka, etc. )
Challenges With Interpreters from Communities of Languages of Lesser-Diffusion Small, tight-knit communities=> q q Confidentiality Issues q Fewer matters mean limited earnings. Interpreters don't stay long. Fewer matters mean fewer opportunities to develop their skills.
Remember! q Interpreters should never be asked to express personal comments on an LEP party's truthfulness or honesty. q If an interpreter cannot understand the LEP party’s speech or a term or expression, s/he should ask for clarification, letting the attorney or other party know what s/he is asking.
? Is it the court interpreter's role to make sure that LEP parties understand their court or legal process?
A. The Court Interpreter's role is to ensure equal linguistic access for LEP parties in court to make them linguistically present throughout their legal process. However, it is not their role to ensure LEP parties' understanding of the process. Their role is to enable LEP parties: • to hear everything said regarding their legal process; • to communicate with English-speaking parties effectively and transparently.
Food for Thought… Dangers in using a family member or another non professional as an interpreter
Be mindful about the following: o o o Avoid using children. Never use members of your client’s family who may have vested interests in the outcome of the case, or members of the other side. Watch out for “rogue interpreters” who charge LEP parties directly. Do not ask interpreters to help LEP parties fill out forms. They can only orally translate their contents. Any other issues?
Troubleshooting: o How to make the best of the situation when you are working with an untrained or ad hoc interpreter.
Effective Use of an Interpreter • • Check for familiarity with concepts involved. (share forms, reports, etc. ) Monitor ethical standards: accuracy, impartiality, completeness and confidentiality. Encourage interpreter to ask you for clarification of any terms you use. Make sure the interpreter is interpreting!
Monitor the interpreter's performance The interpreter doesn’t seem to be interpreting everything the LEP party says. Should you do something?
Monitoring the interpreter's performance You notice the interpreter chatting with the LEP party in their own language too much. Would it be appropriate for you to intervene?
Part 2 video program (Clarity Interpreter) correcting common interpreting mistakes http: //www. youtube. com/watch? v=9 e_n. IDJV-Lk
Seating arrangement: • Who needs the interpreter? • Maintain direct communication with your LEP client. • Discourage private communications between interpreters and LEP parties.
Phone Interpretation: Common problems during 3 -way phone meetings or conversations: o o o Technical difficulties The interpreter takes over. The interpreter and/or the LEP party are intimidated by the call. The interpreter doesn’t have enough context or information about the matter at hand. The interpreter from Language Line is not local. Other?
Troubleshooting: o Technical difficulties Confusion as to who’s who. o o The interpreter takes over. o o o The interpreter and/or the LEP party are intimidated by o the call. The interpreter doesn’t have enough context or information about the matter at hand. o The interpreter from Language Line is not local Whenever possible, use landlines. Take time at the beginning of the call to introduce all parties and to clarify the role of the interpreter. Control the flow of the conversation. Give the interpreter a summary of the issues to be addressed. Speak clearly, using direct language and short sentences. Make sure to explain or describe references to local sites, events, etc. (“Mass. Ave, ” “ 209 A”)
The Office of Court Interpreter Services Office of Court Management 2 Center Plaza Boston, MA 02108 617’ 878’ 0269
Services provided by OCIS o o Court Interpreters assigned throughout the entire Massachusetts court system. Criminal and civil matters covered. Phone Interpretation Services On-line list of OCIS interpreters