California Official Court Reporters Association

Professional Practice : Interpreters

The court reporter and the interpreter share the challenges and goals of making the verbatim record. They are a team. The following tips are offered when working with an interpreter.

Setup

If an interpreter is used during the proceedings, that fact must be indicated in the reporter’s transcript. The name of the interpreter, as well as the language the English is being interpreted into and from, must be noted in the setup. If the reporter does not know an interpreter’s name, and the interpreter does not identify him/herself, the reporter must get the name before the interpreter leaves.

Sometimes there are multiple defendants and multiple interpreters present for the same criminal proceedings. The reporter must indicate in the transcript which interpreter is interpreting for which defendant.

(Sample)

Avelina Pritchard,

Official court interpreter for the defendant, translated from the English language into Spanish, and from Spanish into English, as follows:

Or:

(Interpreter Sworn)

Record Clarity

Once this setup is included in the transcript, it is assumed that all remarks of the party or witness are through the interpreter, and it is not necessary to include the words “through interpreter.” However, in the event the party/witness responds in English instead of through the interpreter, this must be indicated in the record.

Some reporters reporting criminal pleas, sentencings and probation modification matters prefer to include the words “through the interpreter” after each response from the defendant. While this is redundant, they feel it helps to keep the record clear. Both methods are acceptable. The object is clarity and consistency.

(Sample)

The Defendant (in English): I understand.
The Defendant (through The Interpreter): I understand.

Colloquy

When an interpreter interjects into the proceedings speaking for him or herself, the interpreter must be identified as a speaker.


(Sample)

The Interpreter: Your honor, I can’t hear.

Pronouns

Interpreters are supposed to use the first person when responding for a witness or party. Most experienced interpreters follow this procedure. Sometimes when a new interpreter is being used, it becomes necessary for the reporter to ask the judge to remind the interpreter to respond for the witness or party in the first person. If an interpreter uses the third person, then the interpreter must be identified as a speaker.

(Sample)

The Interpreter: He says he understands.