Washington Supreme Court judge calls for video remote interpreting

BMadsenWAA few days ago, Chief Justice Barbara Madsen, who presides over the Washington State Supreme Court in the United States made her State of the Judiciary Address.

One of the key points in her speech was “Interpreter Needs in Washington Courts” – first she gave some details of volumes: “Seventy-eight different languages were interpreted in Washington’s trial courts in 2012, and King County’s running tally shows that they have provided interpreters for 130 different languages.  However, our state has certified and registered interpreters in only 35 languages, meaning that we are not able to ensure quality translations for many languages spoken in our courts”.

Chief Justice Madsen then went on to stress the importance of court interpreting: “Legal proceedings, with their technical language and complex processes, are confusing enough when you understand English. But, imagine walking into a high stakes situation where you didn’t understand a word of what was going on.”

Lastly, she spoke of a new project: “the Supreme Court included in its budget submission to the legislature a request for funding for a pilot program for video remote interpreting. Reducing both the cost and time of travel can better focus scarce resources where they belong.”

To read the full Address, click here.

Greece, Corinth CanalWhat do you have to say about remote court interpreting? Do share your comments, knowledge & experience.

2 thoughts on “Washington Supreme Court judge calls for video remote interpreting

  1. The interpreting “industry ” in California provides a livelihood to thousands of service providers. As a court interpreter in California, I can affirm that this service, provided by the Federal government in Federal Courts, by each County and by the State in their respective courts, in criminal matters, and by the parties themselves in civil matters, both at depositions and court hearings, is highly advanced and covers every conceivable language. The requirements to be certified as a court interpreter, including ongoing education as a prerequisite of periodic renewal of the interpreter’s license, are quite stringent. Despite the enormous budgets allocated for this purpose, the quality of interpretation is uneven. Whether video interpretation would adversely affect the standard of interpretation is an open question. Many courts have full-time Spanish interpreters who are on the spot to interpret for dozens of parties each day. Given the economies of that system for that language, the financial saving in linking up to remote interpreters is doubtful. Telephone interpretation is fairly widely used in the medical field in California but I have no personal experience of how effective it is.

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