A Sign Language Interpreter has submitted, anonymously, this story for you all to read. Comment is made afterwards:
‘An interpreter was warned to attend court c/o ALS and its preferred supplier of Sign Language Interpreters. The interpreter had little experience of court work generally and no knowledge of the defendant, no knowledge of the indictment and no knowledge of the type or stage in proceedings. The booking had been made a mere two days earlier by the agency’s assessment that it was ‘straight forward, quick and well within the interpreters’ capability’.
The interpreter had been informed that a relay interpreter would attend also to facilitate communications. They did not know the relay interpreter, had never worked with them before and actually had no idea why in fact a relay interpreter was required for the case…
The relay interpreter arrived not only late but also dressed most inappropriately for a court case. They too had no idea of the indictment, defendant, stage of proceedings etc. The relay interpreter immediately declared that they had never worked in a court before. The defence lawyer had immediate and very serious concerns about the communication provision for their client. Representations were made immediately to the court. Meanwhile, as it is a small community, it was quickly discovered that the relay interpreter had a fairly substantial court career with a number of both recent and historic criminal convictions – with even further cases pending!
The relay interpreter admitted, to the hearing interpreter, that there were many reasons why they must not and should not work in court or other legal settings. The relay interpreter stated it had ‘been a mistake’ to accept the job from the agency, but that no CRB clearance had been requested and no proof of experience had been required. The relay interpreter, instead of reporting to the usher, decided to leave the building with no explanation to the court whatsoever.
The hearing interpreter entered the courtroom and explained to the judge that they had no choice but to withdraw from the assignment. The withdrawal was put on the following grounds that: 1. they had been falsely warned to the assignment; 2. they were unable to function effectively alone; 3. they would not be able to perform the task satisfactorily unto the language need and complexity of the case and 4. that it would put justice in too greater jeopardy. The interpreter further disclosed to the court the full details of the concerns pertaining to the equally inappropriate and dangerous relay interpreter.
The judge thanked the interpreter for their honesty and integrity. They made a note of the necessary details to be referred to the court presiders regarding the enormous danger that the defendant had faced unto ALS and its’ preferred supplier.’
– Court or Police work is not glamourous and does not afford an interpreter extra status or kudos. Your work could be held up to account, may be examined by an expert witness, investigated by defence teams and you could find yourself in a situation where you are being called as a witness.
– It is highly likely that a three hour training course will not be sufficient to ensure you are fully competent to work in a court. Even if it contains in the title the word ‘Masterclass’. Try some shadowing first. And a mentor. Or better still don’t work for the company that everyone loves, with good reason, to hate.
If you are witness to anything, wish to write a guest blog post or wish to send something in for further comment please email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A big thank you to our anonymous poster.