i am from tucson, az, which is less than an hour from mexico. suffice it to say we have a lot of spanish speakers here, whih is why the following event particularly shocked me.
i was serving on a jury in a child molestation case (a whole other story). they called the mother up to testify, and the court was informed that the woman could not speak English. it turned out that this was not entirely true, as she would sometimes jump in before her translator had stopped translating, but that’s not really important.
what was shocking to me was the way in which the mother’s testimony was related. to start with, the mother was interviewed by a detective who spoke only english. a translator was therefore necessary. the detective’s interrogation of the mother was taped and sent to be transcribed.
at this point, the transcribers take down the detective’s questions and the mother’s TRANSLATED answers, so her original testimony, in spanish, is lost.
then, in court, the lawyer cross-examining the mother says “did you not say
[quotes english translation of original testimony]
to detective o’flanagan?” the court translator translates that question into spanish—so of course she has to re-translate the mother’s testimony, from english back into spanish.
what’s the mother to do? it’s highly unlikely that the translator could re-translate the testimony back into the EXACT spanish words originally spoken by the mother. so the mother has to agree or disagree with having made statements that she never necessarily uttered but that the court is using as incontrovertible recorded evidence.
oh, and did i mention that the translator is a white woman clearly speaking spanish as a second language?
so here’s the question: what the hell do we do about this? if even TUCSON hasn’t found a sensible way to accommodate spanish speakers, what’s the rest of the country up to?