Criminal Defense of Immigrants


§ 4.6 (C)

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(C)  Summary Interpretation is more commonly encountered in everyday life, and means paraphrasing the words of the speaker.  Summary interpretation is insufficiently accurate or complete for use in court or other legal contexts, including interroga­tion or witness preparation, since great precision is required to convey the exact meaning of the speaker from one language to another.[22]  “This form of interpretation should not be used in court proceedings.  Summary interpretation removes the voice of the witness from the proceedings and may allow an interpreter’s own knowledge, bias and perceptions to interfere with what is actually being said.” [23]


[22] See e.g., United States ex rel. Negron v. New York, 434 F.2d 386, 389-90 (2d Cir. 1970).

[23] Court Interpreters in Criminal Proceedings: Appointment, Qualification and Effective Utilization, Chap. 6 in American Bar Ass’n Comm’n on Immigration, Judicial Immigration Education Project, A Judge’s Guide to Immigration Law in Criminal Proceedings 6-20 (P. Goldberg & C. Wolchok, eds., 2004), citing United States v. Gomez, 908 F.2d 809, 811 (11th Cir. 1990); State in Interest of R.R., Jr., 398 A.2d 76, 86 (N.J. 1979) (an interpreter may not “merely render a ‘summary’ of what the primary witness has stated”); Ex parte Guzmon, 730 S.W.2d 724 (Tex. Crim. App. 1987) (overturning conviction obtained in a trial where counsel told jurors that the interpreter was going to paraphrase the defendant’s words, rather than provide a literal interpretation); Mass. Code of Prof’l Conduct for Ct. Interpreters § 1.03(8)(c); Admin. Office of the Courts of New Jersey, Standards for Court Interpreting, Legal Translating, and Bilingual Services § 3A:3.10(D) (1995); Hon. Charles M. Grabau, Court Interpreting: View from the Bench, 20 State Court Journal, No. 1, at 6 (1996).