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Wednesday, August 8, 2012



Court interpreters play crucial role in criminal justice system, officials say


By ANN ZANIEWSKI

P. Lanette Pinkard’s hands can change a person’s life.

Pinkard, a certified sign language interpreter, works in courthouses in Oakland County and elsewhere doing sign language interpretation for the deaf. Officials say interpreters, whether for deaf people or non-native English speakers, are key in ensuring defendants have a fair path through the criminal justice system.


“Regardless of what the legal obligations are for providing interpreters, if you cannot communicate with the court, how is it that you can fully avail yourself of your rights and participate in the legal process?” said Richard Lynch, manager of Oakland County Circuit Court’s Civil/Criminal division. 



Lynch said court interpreters must be highly skilled and dedicated. Those who interpret foreign languages must be fluent in both English and the other language.

“In a courtroom environment, they’re going to be exposed to such a breadth of language at so many different levels that an interpreter must be an exceptionally dedicated student of both languages in order to adequately perform the task,” Lynch said.

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