Interpreter Law Checklists

Presiding Officer Checklist
To assist presiding officers in managing interpreting services, the following suggestions are offered.
  • Identify the need and appoint a certified or otherwise qualified interpreter as early as possible.

  • Conduct voir dire at the first hearing before the interpreter is called upon to perform interpretive services. Repeat the process if the interpreter changes.

  • Conduct a preparatory meeting with the interpreter prior to the hearing (with counsel and parties present) to allow the interpreter to clarify interpretive ground rules or conditions, and to provide the interpreter with advance copies of proposed exhibits and other hearing documents.

  • Advise the parties that the presiding officer may order that testimony of the person for whom interpretive services are being provided and the interpretation be recorded.

  • Emphasize that the record produced by the court reporter is the official record of the proceeding.

  • If a telephone hearing is conducted, ensure that microphones and sound systems are functioning properly and that counsel, parties, witnesses and the interpreter are situated so that all communications can be clearly heard.

  • Inquire, if necessary, whether any relevant exhibits have been transmitted in advance by fax or otherwise, if possible, to the interpreter.

  • Advise the interpreter, the recipient of the interpreting services, witnesses and attorneys of the proper procedure to be used.

  • Do not refer to the recipient of interpretive services in the third person.

  • If an interpreter is used to interpret a witness’s testimony, inform both the interpreter and the witness that no inappropriate communications will be permitted while the witness is on the witness stand.

  • The presiding officer is responsible for responding to requests for repetition or rephrasing, and will instruct participants accordingly.

  • The presiding officer should caution participants about speed and clarity of speech.

  • The presiding officer should arrange sight lines and sound systems in the hearing room to facilitate interpretations.

  • At the beginning of every hearing, the presiding officer must administer an oath or affirmation to the interpreter regarding the responsibility to make a true translation.

  • The presiding officer should observe the interpreter’s practice and correct any deviations from proper standards of conduct. If problems become apparent, the presiding officer should use a side conference with attorneys and the interpreter, or recess, to address and correct the problem.

  • The presiding officer should provide rest breaks for the interpreter or appoint multiple interpreters for lengthy proceedings.
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