ALS interpreter dismissed from court only to return on another case
On 11th May there was a court hearing taking place, and to my astonishment and disgust the person present at court was no other than the same Hindi ALS worker who had been dismissed by the judge from another case I observed earlier in the week.
Upon seeing me she became very distressed... The next thing I observed was that a court employee was holding her hand and comforting her! He appeared very concerned about the state she was in and he spent about 15 minutes reassuring her. Although she was very nervous, she obviously had no concern about the fact that she had caused the previous trial to collapse and the inevitable re-trial is going to cost the public purse an enormous amount of money.
The defence solicitor was known to me, I informed him of what had occurred during the previous week. He promised me that he would keep an eye on her, as both the solicitor and the barrister spoke and understood Punjabi themselves. However, I did not get the chance to observe her interpreting as the case had not started and I had to leave.
There were two other (ALS) workers present in the court and I was lucky enough to see the actions of one of them outside the court room. This Tamil worker from Manchester was very nervous and he kept asking everyone about the legal terminology. He kept going back to the information monitor to see if there were any updates as well as pestering the usher.
Court security made a call for the Tamil interpreter to go to the security (I think this was requested by the barrister), but the worker ignored the call and stayed by the monitor. The barrister came to the waiting area, found the worker and introduced herself.
He was talking to his barrister and I was standing close enough to hear everything.
Worker - Can I see the defendant’s file?
Barrister – No, you cannot.
Worker – But I need to see the file.
Barrister – There is no need for you to see the file.
This continued for a short time when finally the barrister told him ‘you only need to interpret whatever I say in English’, however, the worker kept on insisting that it was his right to see the file, and the barrister told him 'no, you don’t, it is not your right to see the file'. Then both of them went down to the cells.
They came back after a little while and I could see the barrister was not happy. The ALS worker came back to the monitor and after realising that the case was for mention, he became very nervous. There were two random solicitors chatting and the ALS worker approached them to ask the meaning of “mention”. The solicitors did not tell him the meaning, saying it could have several and he then started asking the public.
Unfortunately, I had to leave shortly, but it was a totally amusing experience.