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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 78069 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Language Barriers in the Criminal Justice System - A Look at the Federal Judiciary (From Report From the National Hispanic Conference on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, P 333-360, 1981 - See NCJ-78060)
Author(s): C Astiz
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 25
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
Washington, DC 20531
US Dept of Justice NIJ Pub
Washington, DC 20531
Grant Number: 79-NI-AX-0078
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: An overview is provided of the handling of non-English speaking defendants and witnesses in Federal courts, and recommendations are offered for improving court services in this area.
Abstract: Federal district court procedures for dealing with non-English speaking defendants and witnesses differ from one court to another. Under existing law, some discretion is given to the presiding judicial officer in the use of interpreters, but it is difficult for such an officer to ignore a request for a certified interpreter. Denial of such a request can come only after a hearing and is subject to appeal. The petitioner can request assistance from the clerk or from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts in order to locate a certified interpreter. The service is mandated at the Government's expense. Court observations and interviews with interpreters show that great variations exist regarding interpreters' techniques, retention, and accuracy in consecutive interpretation. In general, Federal courts of appeal have been reluctant to consider the issue of the quality of interpretation once the interpreter has been provided. The Federal certification program should be supported and efforts made to improve it. If it is claimed that certified interpreters are not available, attorneys should indicate on the record at the outset that the qualifications of the interpreter appointed by the court have not been demonstrated. In addition, a request should be made for a record to be kept of all remarks made in Spanish or interpreted into that language, whether made in open court or to the Spanish-speaking defendant. Under no circumstances should attorneys agree to proceed without interpreters appointed by the court at Government expense. In criminal cases before State courts, attorneys and minority group leaders should petition the courts to employ interpreters certified by the Federal judiciary. Five footnotes are listed.
Index Term(s): Critiques; Federal courts; Hispanic Americans; Interpreter Services; Judicial decisions; Legislation
Note: Microfiche version of the document is under NCJ-78069.
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