Criminal Defense of Immigrants


§ 4.22 3. Literacy

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                In criminal cases, an interpreter will usually be required to be literate (i.e., able to read and write), as well as fluent (i.e., able to speak and understand) the language interpreted.  This is because in excess of 95% of criminal cases are resolved by a plea bargain, and most plea bargains require use of a written waiver form or plea agreement written in complex syntax and using a complicated legal vocabulary.  For this reason, a competent court interpreter must be able to read and write, as well as speak, both languages with a high degree of competence.  It has been estimated that at least a 12th grade education in both languages is required to perform competently as a court interpreter.[68]  In effect, the interpreter must also be able to act as a translator.

[68]  Moore & Mamiya, Interpreters in Court Proceedings, in J. Moore, editor, Immigrants in Courts 240 n.12 (Univ. of Washington Press 1999).