What Would You Have Done?

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The Judge ordered the interpreter to go assist the Public Defender in presenting an offer to the Defendant. The offer included dropping one of the charges.

The three, Public Defender, interpreter and defendant were sitting in the interview room when the PD’s phone rang. He took the call, and walked a short distance. During that brief moment, the defendant says to the interpreter in a low tone, “Don’t tell anyone, not even my attorney…” and admitted to being one of the members of the gang that had committed the robberies and that he had some cash stashed away at home. By the time the interpreter finished saying “You shouldn’t be talking to me” the deed had been done. The attorney turns around and asks “What were you two talking about in [fill in the language]?” The interpreter found himself in a very uncomfortable spot.


1- Risk the Defendant’s wrath and spill the beans
2- Lie and invent something
3- Say nothing at the moment and inform the judge and PD at the same time
4- …

One thought on “What Would You Have Done?”

  1. Donna Luisa McGeehan says:

    I’m thinking that when in a situation like this, when the PD walks away, an interpreter could (in light of this situation, perhaps, should), also, remove him/herself from the defendant. Thus taking away the opportunity for the defendant to say something and getting into this sticky situation. I’m also making a note to self: if I don’t “get away” before the defendant says something that I can hear, that I will continue moving away, but not engage/respond to the defendant in any way. Instead, remain silent until the PD finishes the phone conversation, when, at such time, I immediately interpret what I heard the defendant say.

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