Marianas Variety

Last updateWed, 21 Aug 2019 12am

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    Tuesday, August 20, 2019-9:58:21P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Superior Court clerk says they are current on interpreter payments

THERE are no payment delays and the judiciary is current with its payments for interpreter services except for those who have not submitted their billings, Superior Court Clerk of Court Patrick V. Diaz said in a statement.

Their office reviewed the records and found that the court is current on its payments, he added.

“Once an interpreter submits a bill to us, the turnaround time for payment is about 15 days. We endeavor to pay all accurately rendered invoices as promptly as possible.”

Diaz said they will contact each of their interpreters to verify whether some invoices fell through the cracks and, if so, they will be “addressed immediately”

“Interpreters are an integral part of our judiciary, and we value their services. For that reason, when we became aware of such concerns, we looked into our records immediately to make sure we pay the interpreters promptly.”

According to Diaz, the judiciary has also been making efforts to increase the hourly rates for interpreters and court-appointed attorneys for indigent defendants.

But he said the annual appropriation for the judiciary is inadequate for increased interpreter hourly fees as well as court-appointed counsel fees.

Diaz said for fiscal year 2017, the judiciary, with the support of the CNMI Bar Association, submitted a request to increase the courts’ professional services budget.

“I will be meeting with the interpreters directly in the coming weeks,” Diaz said. “I want to hear about and address any concerns they might have about their services with the court.”

On Monday, Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho issued a minute order to continue the bench trial of a Chinese defendant from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. because there were no Chinese interpreters available to translate the proceedings.

The government and the defense counsel told the court that they had exhausted their list of over 15 Chinese translators in an effort to obtain an interpreter but without success.

An interpreter who declined to be identified told Variety that the local court pays low rates and the release of payments is often delayed.