Role of a check interpreter in international depositions and trials

The role of check interpreters in international depositions.

We had a deposition on a patent infringement case, where the plaintiff’s attorney was a young and inexperienced monolingual attorney who said he never had a deposition with an interpreter before.

The other party brought a check interpreter who was re-translating everything the main interpreter said. The notorious attorney who worked for many patent infringement cases was making objections to form for every question the deposing attorney asked, and explicitly harassed the interpreter so that the defendant would not give out much information. The deponent was determined to give the minimum information, and intentionally mumbled, probably at the instruction of the attorney. The check interpreter was repeating every sentence, which was a pure harassment, but the deposing attorney did not stop it and just let it happen. In the end, the plaintff got ver little information, as the defendant was determined to disturb the process as much as possible.

It is good to have a check interpreter to help in, but in this case the interruption was intentional and excessive. The attorney should have taken an action to stop it. The experienced main interpreter pointed out what was going on, but the attorney was suspecting the quality of interpreting, just as the defendant wanted. In some trials, the court did not allow the check interpreter to disturb the proceedings.

With the process of globalization, there should be some set standards on the role of a check interpreter. At the present time we just have to rely on the common sense and professional ethics of the interpreter, and when a check interpreter intentionally abandons them, she can greatly aid the defendant by disturbing the deposition. In the courtroom, the judge can make a decision whether to allow it or not.

But in depositions, the attorney should prevent it from happening, which would require that he himself is bilingual. In a worst case scenario, the parties can agree to have a third party interpreter, but that could be more disturbing and the deposition will become a battlefield of interpreters. Some patent attorneys make use of this and make it his first priority to attack the interpreters.

What should interpreters do? The interpreter should remind the attorney of what is going on and ask him to take measues to stop the check interpreter from redoing every translation. The attorney must be bilingual to know what is going on. Since patent cases are usually filed in the U.S., the attorney should check the credentials of the check interpreter and determine whether she is qualified to object to the main interpreter’s interpretation.

And the attorney should remind the check interpreter of the professional ethics of court interpreters in the U.S. However, when the attorney has no experience and doesn’t understand what is going on, the attorney thinks interpreting is not important, maybe our interpreter has a problem in her interpreting, why is she getting upset, why isn’t she friendly, and tries to use another interpreter, who will go through a worse situation.

Some experienced attorneys have won the patent cases just by using a check interpreter, not giving out much information and getting rid of the plaintiff’s competent interpreters by unreasonably harassing them. In order for justice to be done, there is a strong need to set rules for check interpreters at international depositions and trials.  It’s a dirty trick, but in such a case where billions of dollars are at stake, there are attorneys who believe that the end of winning the case justifies whatever means they use.