Level Playing Field: Court Interpreters Help Speed the Process, Meet Growing Demand

WORCESTER- But for Marisol Arzeno-McGill’s linguistic skills, Santos A. Delgado would probably not have understood a word Assistant District Attorney Timothy M. Farrell was saying as the prosecutor explained his predicament to the judge.

He could not go forward with the scheduled hearing on Mr. Delgado’s motion to suppressmotion to suppress n. a motion (usually on behalf of a criminal defendant) to disallow certain evidence in an up-coming trial. Example: a confession which the defendant alleges was signed while he was drunk or without the reading of his Miranda rights.
….. Click the link for more information. the drug evidence against him because a key police witness had inexplicably not shown up to testify, Mr. Farrell told Judge James R. Lemire during a recent Worcester Superior Court session.

Held on $50,000 cash bail and facing a minimum mandatory 10-year prison sentence if convicted, the 22-year-old defendant listened intently as Ms. Arzeno-McGill, the Spanish-speaking interpreter at his side, communicated Mr. Farrell’s comments in Mr. Delgado’s native tongue.

Citing the court’s heavy docket and the likelihood that Mr. Delgado’s case would not be reached anyway, Judge Lemire continued the matter to another date. Mr. Delgado, a Jamaica Plain man also known as James Pena-Guerro, was returned to the lockupSee hang and abend.

Ms. Arzeno-McGill rushed off to another courtroom where her services were needed.

It was one of more than a dozen times Ms. Arzeno-McGill would be called upon this particular day to assist Spanish-speaking parties to cases in the five court departments that make up the Worcester Trial Court at 225 Main St. She and Larry Smith

For other people named Larry Smith, see Larry Smith (disambiguation).

Larry W. Smith (born 1951 in Hudson, Quebec) is a Canadian athlete and businessperson. He is currently the president of the Montreal Alouettes. , the other Spanish-speaking interpreter assigned permanently to the Worcester courthouse, are among 28 certified language interpreters employed full time by the state Office of Court Interpreter Services.

They include 19 Spanish interpreters, five Portuguese and one each who speak Vietnamese, Khmer, Cape Verdean and Haitian Creole Haitian Creole
A language spoken by the majority of Haitians, based on French and various African languages.

Noun 1. Haitian Creole , according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

3. Gaye Gentes gen·tes
Plural of gens. , manager of the office. Court interpreters are required to pass a test and undergo a tightly structured training program before becoming certified.

Ms. Gentes also uses the services of 188 per diem per diem adj. or n. Latin for “per day,” it is short for payment of daily expenses and/or fees of an employee or an agent.  interpreters, independent contractors who speak both English and a combined total of 51 other languages, from Albanian to Vietnamese. A recent recruitment program added court interpreters in Hmong and several African languages African languages, geographic rather than linguistic classification of languages spoken on the African continent. Historically the term refers to the languages of sub-Saharan Africa, which do not belong to a single family, but are divided among several distinct , including Twi, Ibo, Dinka and Luganda, Ms. Gentes said.

State law mandates that non-English speaking and deaf or hearing-impaired parties or witnesses in legal proceedings All actions that are authorized or sanctioned by law and instituted in a court or a tribunal for the acquisition of rights or the enforcement of remedies. be provided the aid of an interpreter. In fiscal year 2008, the Office of Court Interpreter Services filled 96,737 requests for interpreters in about 140 courts statewide, up from 56,000 seven years earlier, according to Ms. Gentes.

The annual cost to the taxpayers is $1.5 million for the staff interpreters and $4.4 million for the per diems, according to Trial Court spokeswoman Joan Kenney.

Court interpreters have their own code of professional conduct covering such topics as accuracy, impartiality, confidentiality, proficiency, demeanor, case preparation, conflicts of interest, public comments and legal advice.

The code describes the role of the interpreter as that of a “communication facilitator” who helps protect the rights of non-English speaking people involved in the legal process.

Mr. Smith, a Michigan native, said he learned Spanish while attending Western Michigan University Western Michigan University, at Kalamazoo, Mich.; coeducational; founded in 1903 as Western State Normal School, became accredited in 1927 as a college, gained university status in 1957.  and later became more fluent in the language while working in the tourism industry in California. A graduate of the University of Michigan Law School The University of Michigan Law School, located in Ann Arbor, is a unit of the University of Michigan. The Law School, founded in 1859, currently has an enrollment of approximately 1,200 students, most of whom are earning the degrees of Juris Doctor (J.D.) or Master of Laws (LLM).  and a member of the California bar, Mr. Smith moved to North Carolina North Carolina, state in the SE United States. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean (E), South Carolina and Georgia (S), Tennessee (W), and Virginia (N). Facts and Figures

Area, 52,586 sq mi (136,198 sq km). Pop. in the late 1990s, started doing

court interpreting part time there, then received his certification as a court interpreter.

He and his wife moved to Worcester “sight unseen” in 2001, after he accepted his current job here.

“I love it,” Mr. Smith said of his work.

“For me, it’s a natural. It’s a coming together of law and Spanish after all these years. It brings together what I like about both. I’m a people person. I think you have to be in this business. And I love language,” he said.

There’s more to court interpreting than the ability to speak English and another language, according to Mr. Smith.

There are two basic modes of court interpretation, simultaneous and consecutive, and each has its own set of challenges, said Mr. Smith. The former requires the interpreter to speak contemporaneously with the person whose statements are to be heard. In the latter, the interpreter allows the speaker to finish his or her statement before attempting its interpretation.

Mr. Smith likened simultaneous interpretation to a splitting of the brain’s lobes that enables the interpreter to listen and speak at the same time.

“You’ve got to develop that ability of incoming and outgoing, in two different languages. And it’s in real time,” he said “It takes practice. It doesn’t come naturally. You just have to learn.”

Surprisingly, Mr. Smith said he and most of his colleagues find consecutive interpreting more difficult because it is so taxing on the memory.

Spanish is Ms. Arzeno-McGill’s first language. Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico San Juan (IPA: [saŋ hwaŋ]) (from the Spanish San Juan Bautista, “Saint John the Baptist”) is the capital and largest municipality on Puerto Rico. , she studied English in grade school.

A former bilingual elementary school elementary school: see school.  teacher with a master’s degree in communications from Boston University, Ms. Arzeno-McGill worked as an account executive in

public relations public relations, activities and policies used to create public interest in a person, idea, product, institution, or business establishment. By its nature, public relations is devoted to serving particular interests by presenting them to the public in the most

before becoming a medical interpreter at Brigham and Women’s Hospital Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) is a hospital in the Longwood Area of the Boston, Massachusetts neighborhood of Mission Hill. With Massachusetts General Hospital, it is one of the two founding members of Partners HealthCare.  in Boston, a position she held four years.

She has been a court interpreter for 20 years, the last seven on a full-time basis, and said she has enjoyed every minute of it.

“I think I have the best job in the world,” she said.

Being assigned to five different courts – superior, district, juvenile, probate and housing – exposes her to a wide range of legal issues and keeps the job interesting, according to Ms. Arzeno-McGill.

“Each court has its own style, its own way of doing things. I never know when I walk through the door what’s waiting for me that day,” she said. Ms. Gentes said the system developed by Ms. Arzeno-McGill and Mr. Smith to cover the Worcester Trial Court is used as a model for court interpreters statewide.

“What I enjoy the most is that what I do, it’s an instrument to the limited-English speaker to have a voice and have full understanding, participation and access to our legal system,” Ms. Arzeno-McGill said.

Contact Gary Murray by e-mail at gmurray@telegram.com.


CUTLINE: Spanish-speaking court interpreters Larry Smith and Marisol Arzeno-McGill are assigned permanently to the Worcester Trial Court. They are among 28 certified language interpreters employed full time by the state Office of Court Interpreter Services.