Basics of Using a Deposition Interpreter

| by Heather Duncan, Esq.

This month’s Network News celebrates our dedicated interpreters and translators!

When the deposition of a witness whose first language is not English is being scheduled, consideration should be given to having an interpreter present. Having a deponent who speaks and understands only some English testify without an interpreter is inadvisable, as is having an interpreter present to interpret only when necessary. A deponent who mixes English and foreign words will create confusion on the part of counsel, the court reporter and the interpreter.

After a decision has been made to use an interpreter, the next step is to accurately determine the foreign language and dialect needed. An interpreter may be fluent in a language but not know the dialect spoken by the witness. For example, there are at least eight separate and distinct Chinese dialects. Requesting a “Chinese” interpreter for a Chinese-speaking witness won’t be beneficial to anyone if the witness and the interpreter are unable to effectively communicate.

Once you have determined the language and dialect, Network Deposition Services can take the work out of selecting the best interpreter to meet your needs. In California, Court Certified reporters are required for the following 15 languages: American Sign Language, Arabic, Armenian-Eastern, Armenian-Western, Cantonese, Farsi (Persian of Iran), Japanese, Khmer (Cambodian), Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian and Spanish. Registered interpreters are interpreters of spoken languages for which there is no bilingual interpreting exam. Registered interpreters must pass a written exam, oral proficiency exams in English and the other language, and must register with the Judicial Council. Court interpreters have to follow a number of professional and ethical rules found in California Rule of Court 2.890 and the Professional Standards and Ethics for California Court Interpreters.

You can also request an interpreter to assist with medical exams. California does not offer a medical certification, however it recognizes national certification from NBCMI and CCHI. Both of these entities require completion of a 40-hour medical interpreting training program.

Network Deposition Services can also provide you with certified translators for legal documents written in a foreign language. 

Stay tuned next month for tips on taking an interpreted deposition.

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