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During this week’s trial, the attorneys mentioned they were very happy with how silent the interpreter was.
For this trial, we used a wireless portable transmitter with a headset mic for the interpreter.
The plaintiff, whom we were interpreting for, happened to win the case against FPL. The fact that the witness may have been likable and credible may have played a role in the jury’s decision. But even with the best witness and the best interpreter, your witness’s effect on the jury is always diminished by the use of an interpreter. There is always something lost in translation.
Your objective when choosing an interpreter is to minimize the damage. Damage control, given that even the best interpreter will never replace being able to hear a witness directly, with all the emotion and non-verbal queues.
When going through an interpreter a great witness becomes a good one, and a bad witness becomes a horrible one.
When asking for a trial interpreter, consider two things.
- Will the interpreter be simultaneously interpreting for your client throughout the entire trial? If so, make sure you get headsets for the trial, so you can focus on the case better without listening to the interpreter in the background throughout.
- If the interpreter will be interpreting for witnesses, make sure your witness is well prepared and that the interpreter is familiar with the witness’s speech patterns. If this is not possible, allow the interpreter to wait inside the courtroom and become familiarized with the subject matter, prior to testimony. Try to get a certified court interpreter if possible.