Marianas Variety

Last updateSat, 07 Dec 2019 12am







    Saturday, December 7, 2019-5:02:50A.M.






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Court interpreters: Don’t treat us like trash

THE local trial court is having a difficult time finding interpreters because of unpaid or delayed payment of the interpreters’fees, and the result is delays in court proceedings.

An interpreter who declined to be identified said if the court needs their assistance, they should not be treated like trash.

A court interpreter usually has another job, so he has to go on leave in order to be able to serve as a court interpreter.

But if it takes so long for the government to pay them, then the government should not be surprised that interpreters do not want to go to court, the interpreter said.

Not everyone who speaks Chinese, Korean, Filipino or Bengali can translate those languages into English for the court, the interpreter added.

“One also has to have an understanding of court proceedings, and not everyone has that,” the interpreter said.

No one can afford to be a full-time interpreter in the CNMI, because he will go hungry while waiting for the resolution of a case, some of which take up to two years, the interpreter added.

The interpreter said they are paid different rates, if paid at all. Some are given $15 per hour, others $20 or more but the release of payments is often delayed.

For arraignments that only take a few minutes, their pay will be based on those minutes only.

“It is so unfair because we spend time, gasoline and effort to be there but we don’t get proper compensation for it. And, worse, the payment is often delayed,” the interpreter said.

There should be separate interpreters for the government, for the defendant and for the court for each proceeding that needs translators, but this does not happen and sometimes there is only one translator for the entire proceeding, the interpreter said.

According to the interpreter, they prefer to work for the District Court for the NMI which pays a much higher rate of about $100 an hour and releases the payment as soon as the interpreters file their invoices.

On July 18, 2016, Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho had to reschedule the bench trial of Gui Fang Lai, who was charged with beating up his wife, because there was no interpreter available.

Judge Camacho issued an order to continue the bench trial to 1:30 p.m. after Assistant Attorney General Betsy Weintraub and Assistant Public Defender Matthew H. Meyer informed the court that they had already exhausted their list of over 15 Chinese translators in an effort to obtain an interpreter but without any success.

Judge Camacho acknowledged that interpreters had expressed their frustration over unpaid or delayed payments.