Three days in Crown Court. ALS, what a mess
A Crown Court in London on 25th September. The requested interpreters were 2 Lithuanians, 1 Slovak and 1 Armenian. The number of interpreters supplied: NONE. The court was told that a Lithuanian interpreter would be available after lunch and a Slovak one the following day. The defence counsels reminded the judge that on previous occasions the case had also been adjourned due to the interpreters’ absence and criticised the new system to which the judge replied “Yes”.
The same court the following morning (26th September). No interpreters. Defence counsels were unhappy and asked the judge for a wasted costs order. The counsel for the Slovak defendant told the judge that he had no interpreter in the last 4 hearings. At 11:45 am a Slovak worker turned up, then at 12:15 - a Lithuanian.
After the oath procedure the judge vigorously questioned both ladies about the reasons for their delay. Before they had got to the court, during a short case adjournment, the judge collected some information about the interpreters’ whereabouts and when she questioned them, asking the Slovak worker why she hadn’t left early to catch the train at _ _: _ _ , and the answer was: “I missed that train”. “Well, - the judge said, - and why didn’t you catch the one at _ _: _ _”, giving the precise time from the National Rail timetable. The answer was that she had some family commitment.
The Slovak worker told the judge that she had only been booked the day before and travelled from Peterborough. She said that she had started doing this job 2 months ago and she had been a receptionist before. She had no badge. I wasn’t able to find out if she was ALS or not.
The Lithuanian worker had an ALS badge and arrived from Derby. She said that she had left Derby after 5 am and was caught up in the traffic jam. No questions were asked about the qualifications.
Day 3. Thursday, 27th September. I arrived at the same court at around 11:00. The jury for this trial had been selected the day before. In the court room the Lithuanian interpreter was saying to the judge that she was not available for some day or days next week. You can imagine the face of that poor judge. She kept her cool and noted that the interpreter had to make herself available for the whole duration of the trial and she hoped that there were many other Lithuanian interpreters in the country to do it on the next occasion. A few minutes later the judge discharged the jury saying that there were some changes in the availability of representatives. She adjourned the case to 23.10.12. The court staff told me because interpreters were not supplied on due dates the court schedule was messed up.
ALS, what a mess.