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NCJ Number: 122530 Find in a Library
Title: Language V. the Law
Journal: Barrister  Volume:16  Issue:4  Dated:(Winter 1989-90)  Pages:20-23,27,42
Author(s): G Craney
Date Published: 1990
Page Count: 6
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Bilingual interpreting is responsible for a growing crisis in the court system, since some non-English-speaking defendants are denied due process because of the lack or incompetence of court-appointed interpreters.
Abstract: The problem lies in obtaining qualified interpreters who can quickly sense the nuances of language in a courtroom situation. For example, when the American Bar Association's Coordinating Committee on Immigration Law recently issued a critical report on how refugees seek political asylum in the United States, three concerns were highlighted: restrictive detention practices; lack of adequate legal representation; and linguistic barriers. Some judges believe that State and local courts do not protect the constitutional right of defendants to understand fully the proceedings against them. Relatives, friends, and even children have been called upon to translate in trials. Federal courts are generally better than State and local courts in terms of linguistics, due to the Court Interpreters Act of 1978. This law requires that Federal criminal defendants who speak only or primarily a language other than English or who have impaired hearing be provided with a certified interpreter. Certification requires the development of written and oral interpreting tests. Only a few States have considered similar legislation, but some States are trying to meet the challenge by increasing the training and number of court interpreters. Translators differ on whether body language and other cultural idiosyncracies should be included in the interpretation.
Main Term(s): Interpreter Services
Index Term(s): Hispanic Americans; Right to Due Process
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