Saturday, May 13, 2006
THE INTERPRETER STRIKE BACK
THE INTERPRETER STRIKES BACK
Call us lots of things, but we like to think we are fair, and give everyone equal time. The following is an email from the interpreter who was before Judge Rosa Rodriguez. Here is her full and unedited response to what occurred.
We also take this time to note that we are very pleased the interpreters read the blog.
Mr. Rumpole:Chief Judge Farina has always been someone who has fought for our department, has lobbied greatly for more funding for more court interpreters to better help serve our diverse community and the Courts, and I am glad that you and your blog have cleared up his name and reputation. Criminal Court Interpreters have always been provided for parents or legal guardians of defendants who are minors or mentally incompetent. However, up to the point of all this ruckus and accusations towards Chief Judge Farina, many of us in the Criminal Court Interpreters Dept., including myself had been told that due to a limitation of resources, that there was an administrative order by the Chief Judge that we could not interpret for family and friends since our first duty was to the defendants, especially those in custody. Despite this many of us try to accomodate or help out whenever possible or when we are not in the middle of one courtroom's plea colluquy and a bailiff signals that we are needed before another Court. When possible we accomodate private attorneys, SAs & PDs in hallway interviews if they are willing to wait until we are done with our respective assigned judges' calendars, since the judges morning calendars and the defendants therein are our first priority.When we have multiple courtrooms to cover, particulary on Sounding days, with either Judges or PDs/Attorneys wanting to convey pleas or do colloquys and a bailiff comes from one courtroom, we do not know for what, we just go. How many times have you or one of your colleagues had to run from courtroom to courtroom or send the bailiff looking for one of us, because the interpreter in your particular courtroom is in the midst of interpreting pleas or other proceedings because defendants, PDs, private attorneys needed to close out cases, but we are too busy at that given moment. When I was called by the bailiff into the courtroom and the lady was pointed out, the proceeding was already in progress and I immediately began interpreting. It was not until the Hispanic private attorney mentioned the name of the male defendant that I inquired who was the defendant, thinking that I may have been interpreting the wrong proceeding to the wrong defendant as sometimes happens when cases are passed until I arrive. When the attorney informed me that the defendant spoke English and that HE wanted me to know if I could interpret the proceeding for the mother so she would be in the know was when I told him that we weren't allowed to interpret for family and friends pursuant to an administrative order by the Chief Judge.It was at this point that the Judge inquired and I repeated what up to that moment I thought was an order, even though I added that we do interpret for family or friends if the Judge is inquiring from them or testimony is being given to the Court. Since the Court neither ordered me nor was speaking with the Defendant's mother directly, I returned to the courtroom across the hall were they were waiting on me to finish conveying a plea in order for the Judge to proceed with the plea colloquy. As an interpreter, I try to help whenever possible while following my department's rules and/or directives, maintaining my professional code of conduct and trying not to run afoul of any of my multiple Judges' wrath. I do not always succeed. However, each of us can only cover so many defendants cases in so many courtrooms at a time without getting someone upset.Glenda Obando