Court interpreting professionals, therefore, have a responsibility in their own right to keep balance or fairness and clarity in court proceedings. They work hand in hand with the court employees to mete out justice or at least to assist the judicial system to work properly like clockwork.
They are so needed in cases where a defendant or accused or even witnesses find it difficult to communicate in the language that the court uses. For instance, in a US court, a Spanish-speaking or French-speaking witness may be needed to describe in detail a particular scenario that happens to be slightly complicated.
Say, an embezzlement case, whose meandering or convoluted nature is not easy to describe even in English. His or her testimony plays a vital role in the outcome of the case, as the jury or judge will base their decision on the witness’s words. So imagine if the witness is unable to properly communicate due to a lack of facility with the English language. What happens then? Worse, if the court interpreting professional assigned to interpret for the witness is not competent enough to capture the gist of what the witness has to say, and consequently, botches up the entire procedure.
Whatever the decision of the judge or jury would then be based in an imperfect, or unclear, understanding of the case. In this situation, one can see the utmost importance of a well-done interpretation job-the lack of competency in this field might undermine the effectiveness of the justice system.
Needless to say, those employed in court interpreting services must have a solid grasp of the languages involved in the interpretation. If you are interpreting from English to Spanish, or vice versa, you must thoroughly know the two languages. It immensely helps if you are a native Spanish speaker with extensive English education. However, the profession is not only about linguistic abilities-one must also have related skills and a deep, if not rigorous understanding of the legal concepts, and related vocabulary and terminologies, and of course, the law.
Usually, the federal court is the one that goes to lengths to get the most qualified court interpreters. In fact, there is existing legislation that prescribes or outlines matters concerning the hiring of competent court interpreting professionals. This is to ensure that only the best people, who have more than enough preparation regarding the proper performance of court-related duties, can be allowed to work.
The requirements are stringent, but understandably so: courtroom proceedings are different than what any other kind of interpreter encounters in daily living. In the court room, one has to deal with complex things that only those with well-honed and hard-earned expertise can be able to handle.