ALS Linguists: are you running the risk of contempt of court?
Bradford Crown Court this week. A 3-day trial, the case gets adjourned for the following day. A 10 minute adjournment hearing and a Czech ALS interpreter interprets maybe 5 sentences during all of that time.
Boston Magistrates’ Court, April 2012. A Russian ALS linguist interprets “Are you willing to indicate a plea?” as “Are you guilty?” She uses the same word “hearing” for “hearing” and “trial” and she struggled with the term “unconditional bail”. Mind you, all very basic terms.
Mold Crown Court. April 2012. A Polish ALS linguist keeps on asking her own questions, expressing her opinions, sighing and arguing with the judge. The defendants don’t make any sense of anything she says.
Nottingham Magistrates’ Court. April 2012. ALS interpreters are reported to act as advisers to defendants.
Spalding Magistrates’ Court. April 2012. An ALS interpreter tells the defendant he was given unpaid work while the magistrates issue a supervision order.
A court in London. May 2012. A Bulgarian ALS interpreter is so bad, the defendant has to ask her to shut up as she is making it worse. His English is very poor but without the interference of the "linguist" he can at least pick up the gist of what they are talking about. In consultation the linguist mistranslates most of what he tries to tell his solicitor.
All these examples show that these ALS linguists are not only unfamiliar with the legal terminology interpreters are supposed to know before they even take any legal interpreting exam, it also shows they are going way beyond what they are expected to do.
I hope these ALS linguists realise the potential risk they are running to be prosecuted for a contempt of court if they are not competent to interpret and even to be sworn in as an interpreter in court proceedings. And Dominic Grieve, Attorney General, confirms this in his response to a letter from Labour MP Emily Thornberry, by saying: “in cases of individual contempt, in which an interpreter failed to interpret either fully or accurately and therefore broke the oath to 'well and faithfully interpret and true explanation make' such a failure could potentially amount to a contempt of court which would be addressed summarily by the Presiding Judge or magistrate”.
Who will be the first to become answerable?