01 Jul What Would YOU Have Done?
This is the third installment of our new feature What Would YOU Have Done? in which we bring real situations for our readers to comment on. The idea is for us to help each other overcome or prepare for unexpected situations. Drop us a line.
And if you have an experience to share, please write to the Editor. Our work is confidential and all identifiable details are removed from the stories shared with us to maintain our compliance with our Code of Ethics.
Here is a very interesting conundrum. Confidentiality is part of the Canon of Ethics, of course, and the following true situation illustrates how interpreters can find themselves in a very difficult and troubling position:
A State Attorney General walked over to the courthouse and into the Office of Court Interpreters. There she presented a subpoena for one of the staff court interpreters. She said the interpreter had to testify about a conversation he had interpreted between the victim and the person who later became the defendant. The conversation took place in a courthouse hallway. No lawyer was present.
The Office Coordinator informed the interpreter that he had to testify against the defendant before the jury, which he did, honestly telling what he recalled from the conversation.
Note that we did not mention languages. If it had been ASL, would the interpreter have to testify? Do the same parameters apply to spoken languages? Let us know what you think and…
YOU HAVE DONE?
| 1. Refuse to testify based on the Code of Ethics and accept the risk of a contempt charge.
2. Refuse to testify without first consulting your lawyer about your rights and responsibilities.
3. Testify. A subpoena is a subpoena.
4. Insist that the two people whose conversation will be revealed give their written consent before you can testify.
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