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.

High court judges should be bilingual…

Mr. Judge… according to the President of the Quebec Bar Association, on the occasion of the  formal swearing-in ceremony of the newest judge at Supreme Court of Canada. The head of the bar  declared “it is essential” that high court judges be drawn from the ranks of the best legal minds who “master” both official languages “given Canada’s linguistic diversity.”

The recently elected Mr Justice Richard Wagner is bilingual, as was Justice Marie Deschamps, who he replaces.

Another think struck me though, in addition to the arguments about linguistic diversity – how about the argument for bilinguallism and multilingualism as a way to open the mind? 🙂

Interpretation versus translation at the US Supreme Court

I think that most people reading this will agree that interpretation (or interpreting) is not the same as translation. However, outside the strict circle of the profession, the difference is not so well known.

Today we shall see how this distinction is causing a real furore!

The US Supreme Court is currently deliberating over whether costs of translation differ from costs of interpretation, in a case involving a Japanese man. Indeed the transcript of last Tuesday’s session goes into great detail. It’s 63 pages long (perhaps demonstrating the complexity of the issues involved), but well worth reading if the issue piques your interest.

Continue reading

Legal Language Explorer

The Google N-grams tool (see my recent post and update) has now fostered a new application to search 200 years of US Supreme Court decisions: Legal Language Explorer. It has been developed by Professor Dr. Daniel Martin Katz of Michigan State University College of Law, Michael J. Bommarito II of Computational Legal Studies, and their colleagues.

The tool is lightning fast, and I really like the way that the corpus tool allows you to click through to list of cases and then to see the original text, and to export lists to Excel, for example. I also support the move, of which the authors are part, to make more full-text legal resources openly available to the public.

Click here to see a presentation of the service, given at the conference JURIX 2011 in mid-December. Bommarito has also posted a more technical description of the project on his blog.

You can try out the web-based interface here. Let me know what you think!

Thanks to Rob L. indirectly via Australia, and Robert at Legal Informatics Blog for bringing the project to my attention.