Interpreter voir dire and ID card
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Does your interpreter need to wear an ID card and what should I ask during voir dire.
Interpreters are only required to show the ID card visibly if they are subcontracted by the federal courts or if they happen to be staff interpreters for the court system. All other freelance interpreters are not required to have the ID on, but it comes in very handy.
Wearing the ID lets the parties know that the interpreter is certified and helps build a little more trust in the interpreter’s abilities. It may avoid the need for a voir dire altogether as both parties will feel more comfortable with the interpreter.
In federal court, it lets the interpreter set up the necessary infrared equipment and pass beyond the area for the public and approach the judicial assistants and courtroom deputies in preparation for the hearings.
Do I have to voir dire the interpreter?
In my experience, it is very rare. One of the parties may use voir dire as an excuse to try to delay a deposition or hearing.
You do, however, want to make sure you get a certified interpreter whenever possible. The different states only offer certification in a handful of languages. For all other languages, you must rely on non-certified interpreters. This is where hiring an agency comes in especially handy.
If the interpreter is either state or federal court certified, I wouldn’t ask anything else. The certification itself means they have passed a written and oral exam and have been deemed admissible.
Most states have a posted list of certified interpreters online that can be looked up in just a few minutes to confirm, if necessary.
If you need to voir dire a non-certified interpreter, I would ask where and for how long the person has resided as well as educational institutions attended, during what years, and where. The best interpreters USUALLY have resided both in an English speaking country and a country where the language they interpret is spoken. You want someone that can speak a full range of registers, from street slang to college vocabulary. A person that speaks the language merely because they learned it at school, but that has not had the opportunity to immerse themselves in the culture and language, may not be the most appropriate.