When a court reporter participates in a deposition, it is imperative that both parties involved fully understand the questions being asked and the answers that are given. Ideally, this will happen in a person’s native tongue, which means that from time to time an interpreter may be necessary. There are different types of interpreters, with some trained extensively in the appropriate ways to do a simultaneous interpretation. But there are also some interpreters who are not trained specifically in the interpretation skills that are necessary for a deposition. Here are five ways you can make sure your interpreted deposition is both accurate and useful.
- Ensure the interpreter is court-certified in the exact language you need. It is not enough to be able to speak and understand another language fluently. It is also important for the interpreter you hire to speak and understand the specific dialect of the person being deposed. Each dialect will be slightly different, and if you hire an interpreter that doesn’t speak the same dialect you could end up with discrepancies or errors on your deposition.
- Make sure the court reporter swears in the interpreter with the appropriate language. The standard language that should be used when swearing in an interpreter should be something along these lines: “Do you solemnly swear or affirm that you will accurately translate from English into ________ and from ______ into English to the best of your ability?” Following the swearing in of the interpreter, the court reporter will then request that the interpreter ask the witness to raise their right hand and administer the standard oath.
- Notice if the interpreter starts to answer the questions rather than repeating exactly what was said by the witness. If at any point during a deposition you happen to notice that the interpreter is starting to answer the questions instead of repeating exactly what the witness said, you will need to stop the deposition and mention to the interpreter that the deposition would be more accurate if they could translate exactly what the witness is saying in their same words. In the final transcript, it will need to be noted where the interpreter answered rather than translating the witness’s answer.
- Minimize interpreters commentary. Similar to when an interpreter answers questions, it is important to minimize the amount of commentary the interpreter provides. If this happens at any time during the deposition, stop the proceedings and ask the interpreter to not add their opinions or commentary to the witness’s answers. If necessary, explain that it is your job to make any clarifications to the record if needed.
- Explain the reading and signing process. At the end of the deposition, you will need to explain the reading and signing process to the witness. This needs to be done on the record so that it can be interpreted and the witness is able to fully understand the process. If the witness has an attorney attending the deposition with them, this issue will be handled through their attorney and is not required to be explained as part of the record.
By following these simple steps, you’ll have a more accurate and usable deposition. Through diligence and attention to details, court reporters can help interpreters and witnesses be as honest and accurate as they possibly can be.