Court Interpreters Serve All Parties

Lady JusticeI am fortunate that it has been many years since I received a traffic citation for a moving violation.  After all, no one wants to visit traffic court, much less suffer the consequences, like fines and increased automobile insurance.

When I was a child, I used to watch a show titled Let’s Make a Deal.  If you have to appear in court for a traffic citation, usually (but not always), it seems as if you are a contestant on that show.  Thankfully, if you make a deal, you usually do not have a dud prize.

Most officers who write tickets are reasonable men and women of law enforcement.  If you have been respectful and cooperative, they will usually show some mercy.  Nevertheless, what if an officer cannot communicate with a traffic offender?  Does that mean the officer will not afford the person the same consideration?  Think about it.  The officer cannot fully understand someone’s broken English.  Is the person giving the officer a fishing story?  Are the gestures and body language dissimilar of the local folk?  Does the officer risk labeling of profiling by not giving the foreign-language speaker a break?

There is when a trained, professional, certified or truly qualified interpreter aids the cause of justice.  When a limited English proficient (LEP) individual has an interpreter, the person can speak at ease, because someone is available who can hear and understand him, translate the concepts, choose the correct grammar, syntax, and semantics, and generate the message into English for the benefit of the officer.  Therefore, the officer will have a complete story, with the tone and inflection demonstrated by the non-English speaker.  Once the officer has made a decision and states it to the LEP traffic offender, the interpreter will faithfully hear and comprehend it, translate the message, choose the correct manner of express, and render the statements into the LEP person’s language.

Although it appears easy, many complex cognitive tasks are at play, and only those who have received extensive training can perform at the skill level required.  The offender had vehicle malfunctions, and all citations which could negatively impact the offender were dismissed.  Time was saved and messages were preserved thanks to the court interpreter.

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