Justice Pierre-Louis continued in relevant part: In 2017, the Judiciary implemented the LAP to ensure all people, including persons with limited English proficiency, have equal access to court proceedings. And the Court has consistently recognized the significance of access to interpreting services. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, court proceedings and services generally occurred and were available in-person within Judiciary facilities. Pursuant to the 2017 LAP, the use of remote interpreting services was very limited. The unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the widespread use of virtual court proceedings.
In 2020, in light of ongoing remote court operations, the Court approved an addendum to the 2017 LAP that expanded the standard for the use of remote interpreting by permitting remote interpreting services to be used for emergent or non-emergent matters even if longer than 30 minutes when an on-site interpreter is not available, including during an emergency that prevents the courts from operating in person. The Addendum also listed several factors for a court to consider in determining how to conduct a court event involving remote interpreting services.
In September 2022, the Court revised the LAP in part to formalize judicial discretion to authorize remote interpreting services for emergent and routine proceedings consistent with current and ongoing practices. In contrast to the 2017 LAP, the 2022 LAP expanded the use of remote interpreting from “emergent matters” and “short non-emergent matters” to “emergent or nonemergent matters.” And for the first time, the 2022 LAP authorized judges to exercise their discretion to use remote interpreting “when appropriate”; it also provides “Guidelines for Video Remote Interpreting.” Those guidelines and the Code of Professional Conduct for Interpreters, Transliterators, and Translators together direct that interpreters’ expert opinions — including about the feasibility of VRI — be voiced and considered.
Being a certified interpreter is different than being bilingual. In addition to speaking the two languages at issue, interpreters must be able to simultaneously interpret and speak while listening to the speaker.