January 24, 2012 § 3 Comments
When I lived in Albuquerque I had the wonderful experience of interpreting for members of the jury. In New Mexico jurors do not need to speak English. The source of this right is the Guadalupe-Hidalgo Treaty signed by the U.S. and Mexico. The State Constitution and State Supreme Court decisions have affirmed this right that all citizens of that State have, regardless of their first language. Historically, after the Mexican-American War, the New Mexico Territory did not have enough English-speaking citizens.
Interpreting for the jury is a different ballgame. I have experienced first-hand jury deliberations without being in the jury, and I have learned a lot about how humans come to a decision that will affect a person’s life. My main concern when it comes to this type of interpretation has to do with stamina. Jury deliberation is a process that goes on for hours and can last several days. The interpreter providing this service has a very important task, and has to work in a very complex environment. Obviously, this job requires of team interpreting; however, sometimes there is no room (literally speaking) in the deliberations room for the two extra chairs, and one interpreter has to leave or stand up. In my opinion, this is an extremely difficult task that requires more than two very good interpreters. Maybe we need a team of three (or even four interpreters for very long trials) and when there is no room for two chairs, the second interpreter should at least be nearby with secured equipment so she can listen to the deliberations and assist her teammate with research and suggestions.
I have not worked a trial in New Mexico for several years and I would love to hear what it is that they are doing to provide top quality interpretation during jury deliberations. To our New Mexico colleagues: Please tell us what you are presently doing.