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For Attorneys: Examining Witnesses Through an Interpreter


Attorney Checklist for Interpreted Testimony

When briefing the interpreter, be sure to mention:

1. What the case is about: names and nicknames, places, overall plot; what piece of the proceeding the interpreter will be needed for;

2. Any documents likely to be referred to or shown to the witness;

3. Where the witness is from, how many years he or she has lived in U.S. (The witness may use some Anglicisms, whether correctly or incorrectly, and the interpreter should be forewarned);

4. Educational level of witness, any speech defects or particularities;

5. Numbers that may come up: addresses, amount of drugs or money, telephone numbers that will repeatedly be referred to, account numbers, etc.;

6. Any physical evidence that will be referred to or shown to the witness;

7. Any emotional factors that may affect the witness's concentration or delivery: mental problems, fear, jumpiness, etc.;

8. Any key words (descriptions, disputed dialog, slang, code words, etc.) that may be elicited in the testimony.


What to Do about Mistakes

Interpreters are not immune to mistakes, slips of the tongue, mental blanks, or memory lapses.


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