Court Interpreter Qualifications For Trial Judge To Determine

Evidence—Competency of Interpreter

In re MH2007-0018995, 548 Ariz. Adv. Rep. 23 (App., Div I, February 10, 2009)(Justice Kessler)

MUST CHALLENGE COMPETENCY OF INTERPRETER AT TIME OF TRANSLATION AND NO RIGHT TO COURT CERTIFIED AS OPPOSED TO COURT QUALIFIED

Appellant claims she was denied due process at her mental health hearing because although the interpreter used was court “qualified” and court “appointed” she was not court “certified”.

The Court of Appeals found that an interpreter must meet the same test as an expert witness under Rule 604 of evidence and whether the qualifications are met is within the discretion of the trial court. The rules do not require an interpreter be court “certified.”

Because appellant failed to meet her burden of showing the interpreter was not competent or accurately translating the proceeding the trial court's ruling will not be overturned. This was particularly true when an audio and video recording of the proceeding existed.

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