Language Rights in the Court Katherine Ashman, Kate Barradell, Holly Chandler and Daisy Wooller
All persons in court are entitled to: • Be informed promptly, in a language which he understands and in detail, of the nature and cause of the accusation against him • Have free assistance of an interpreter if he cannot understand or speak the language used in court
The Interpreter • Language mediator • Compared to “nothing short of a machine” • Must be unbiased • Judge obliged to ensure interpreter acts correctly
The Translator • Different skills to an interpreter • Applies to written documents
The plea is uninformed if the defendant has not fully understood the nature of the case to which he is pleading.
Hearing or Speech Impairments • Hard of hearing or speech impaired are entitled to a qualified sign language interpreter or lip speaker • The court should appoint these aids and cover any costs
Issues with Language Rights in the US • 32 million people in the US whose primary language is not English • Many court-ordered rehabilitation programmes are unable to accommodate non-English speakers • Several cases where unqualified interpreters are used
Issues in North Carolina • Interpreters not provided for first appearances • Confusion over who benefits from an interpreter • Interpreters not provided in small claims court • Often reliant on volunteer interpreters • Lack of interpreters leads to delays
Language Rights for Children • Since June 2011, additional support is given automatically • Age, level of maturity, intellectual ability and emotional state should be taken into consideration • Environment should be modified where possible
In order to participate effectively in a trial, a child needs to comprehend the charges and possible consequences and penalties.
Case Study 1 • 11 year old boy accused of stealing in the UK • Found to have a significant learning disability • Social worker support • Frequent breaks • However, did not fully understand the court process and expected to return home after the trial
Case Study 2 • Boy with ADHD, originally not given extra support • However, a psychiatrist argued that this would enable a fair trial • Earlier decision reassessed