Q: What do I do if an interpreter is present, but the witness wants to “try” to not use the interpreter?
A: Knowing that it is YOUR job to provide that clear, concise, and accurate record, you would be wise to let them know the advantages of relying on the interpreter.
We all know there are times when an interpreter is essential to making a clear, concise and accurate record, which, ultimately, is our main job. If Counsel on your assignment were astute enough to order an interpreter, they must have realized the necessity for those services based on their knowledge of the deponent.
What if, however, as everyone is getting settled into the deposition room, the deponent, in fairly broken English, announces that he’d like to “try” to proceed without using the interpreter? And probably, rather than speaking up, both attorneys will turn to you for your response to that request. Knowing that it is YOUR job to provide that clear, concise, and accurate record, you would be wise to let them know the advantages of relying on the interpreter, such as:
Everyone in the room must be able to completely understand the questions asked and the answers given.
Everyone reading the final transcript must also be able to clearly understand the questions and the answers. This would include judges and clerks who will ultimately be relying on that transcript for making decisions and issuing orders in the case.
I (as the reporter) can only take down answers in English. Even if you (the deponent) throw in a word in another language because you don’t know the English word, I will need to stop the proceedings for clarification, which further slows down the proceedings and interrupts the flow of the record.
Most laypeople are not intimately familiar with legal terminology that could be used in deposition proceedings. An interpreter would be keenly familiar with the legal terms and be able to accurately convey them in your language. Without that interpretation, you may not actually be answering the exact question asked.
Please remember that the interpreter was hired to help you so this process proceeds as easily, comfortably, and expeditiously as possible for you.
My guess is the attorneys will agree wholeheartedly with your explanation and will then continue with the use of the interpreter. To further ensure a clear record, I would also admonish the interpreter, especially if you don’t know them and their experience, to please speak throughout the proceedings in first person. Let him/her know that you will also interrupt them if the record is beginning to be confusing because they’re saying, He said … or She said… at the beginning of the answers. If they are qualified, certified interpreters, this reminder won’t even be necessary, but it never hurts. It also shows the attorneys how very record-conscious you are. They will appreciate your attention to detail. It’s also a small reminder to them to ask their questions in first person and not begin with, as an example, “Ask him his date of birth.”
Have you been in an “on the job” situation that you were unsure how to handle?
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with a scenario you’d like a solution for!
Judy Stevens has been a firm owner in Denver since 1994 before becoming part of Veritext in 2019. She began her career as a court reporter in Tucson, Arizona before moving to Denver, Colorado. In 2000, Judy earned the highly coveted designation of Certified Manager of Reporting Services (CMRS) by the National Court Reporters Association while building her firm, mentoring her team and also serving on the board of her state association and volunteering through the Alliance of Professional Women.
Over the years, Judy and her firm have been recognized by the Denver Business Journal as one of the “Top 10 Fastest Growing Denver-Area Private Companies” and she has been nominated by the Denver Business Journal for its “Outstanding Women in Business” award on numerous occasions. In addition, Judy was recognized by NCRA with its prestigious “Excellence Award for Leadership and Team-Building” and has authored many articles for the JCR magazine. Judy is also quite active in her teaching/mentoring role as a regular guest lecturer at both Arapahoe Community College and the University of Denver Law School.