General Rule (GR) 11
The use of qualified interpreters is authorized in judicial proceedings involving hearing impaired or non-English speaking individuals.
[Adopted effective July 17, 1987.]
Rule 11.1 Purpose and Scope of Interpreter Commission
(a) Purpose and Scope. This rule establishes the Interpreter Commission ("Commission") and prescribes the conditions of its activities. This rule does not modify or duplicate the statutory process directing the Court Certified Interpreter Program as it is administered by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) (RCW 2.43). The Interpreter Commission will develop policies for the Interpreter Program and the Program Policy Manual, published on the Washington Court's website at www.courts.wa.gov, which shall constitute the official version of policies governing the Court Certified Interpreter Program.
(b) Jurisdiction and Powers. All certified court interpreters who are certified in the state of Washington by AOC are subject to rules and regulations specified in the Interpreter Program Manual. The Commission shall establish three committees to fulfill ongoing functions related to issues, discipline, and judicial/court administration education. Each committee shall consist of three Commission members and one member shall be identified as the chair.
(1) The Issues Committee is assigned issues, complaints, and/or requests from interpreters for review and response. If the situation cannot be resolved at the Issues Committee level, the matter will be submitted by written referral to the Disciplinary Committee.
(2) The Disciplinary Committee has the authority to decertify and deny certification of interpreters based on the disciplinary procedures for: (a) violations of continuing education/court hour requirements, (b) failure to comply with Interpreter Code of Conduct (GR 11.2) or professional standards, or (3) violations of law that may interfere with their duties as a certified court interpreter. The Disciplinary Committee will decide on appeal any issues submitted by the Issues Committee.
(3) The Judicial and Court Administration Education Committee shall provide ongoing opportunities for training and resources to judicial officers and court administrators related to court interpretation improvement.
(c) Establishment. The Supreme Court shall appoint members to the Interpreter Commission. The Supreme Court shall designate the chair of the Commission. The Commission shall include representatives from the following areas of expertise: judicial officers from the appellate and each trial court level (3), interpreter (2), court administrator (1), attorney (1), public member (2), representative from ethnic organization (1), and AOC representative (1). The term for a member of the Commission shall be three years. Members are eligible to serve a subsequent 3 year term. The Commission shall consist of eleven members. Members shall only serve on one committee and committees may be supplemented by ad hoc professionals as designated by the chair. Ad hoc members may not serve as the chair of a committee.
(d) Regulations. Policies outlining rules and regulations directing the interpreter program are specified in the Interpreter Program Manual. The Commission, through the Issues Committee and Disciplinary Committee, shall enforce the policies of the interpreter program. Interpreter program policies may be modified at any time by the Commission and AOC.
(e) Existing Law Unchanged. This rule shall not expand, narrow, or otherwise affect existing law, including but not limited to RCW chapter 2.43.
(f) Meetings. The Commission shall hold meetings as determined necessary by the chair. Meetings of the Commission are open to the public except for executive sessions and disciplinary meetings related to action against a certified interpreter.
(g) Immunity from Liability. No cause of action against the Commission, its standing members or ad hoc members appointed by the Commission, shall accrue in favor of a certified court interpreter or any other person arising from any act taken pursuant to this rule, provided that the Commission members or ad hoc members acted in good faith. The burden of proving that the acts were not taken in good faith shall be on the party asserting it.
[Adopted effective September 1, 2005]
Rule 11.2 Code of Conduct for Court Interpreters
PREAMBLE. All language interpreters serving in a legal proceeding, whether certified or uncertified, shall abide by the following Code of Conduct:
A language interpreter who violates any of the provisions of this code is subject to a citation for contempt, disciplinary action or any other sanction that may be imposed by law. The purpose of this Code of Conduct is to establish and maintain high standards of conduct to preserve the integrity and independence of the adjudicative system.
(a) A language interpreter, like an officer of the court, shall maintain high standards of personal and professional conduct that promote public confidence in the administration of justice.
(b) A language interpreter shall interpret or translate the material thoroughly and precisely, adding or omitting nothing, and stating as nearly as possible what has been stated in the language of the speaker, giving consideration to variations in grammar and syntax for both languages involved. A language interpreter shall use the level of communication that best conveys the meaning of the source, and shall not interject the interpreters personal moods or attitudes.
(c) When a language interpreter has any reservation about ability to satisfy an assignment competently, the interpreter shall immediately convey that reservation to the parties and to the court. If the communication mode or language of the non-English speaking person cannot be readily interpreted, the interpreter shall notify the appointing authority or the court.
(d) No language interpreter shall render services in any matter in which the interpreter is a potential witness, associate, friend, or relative of a contending party, unless a specific exception is allowed by the appointing authority for good cause noted on the record. Neither shall the interpreter serve in any matter in which the interpreter has an interest, financial or otherwise, in the outcome. Nor shall any language interpreter serve in a matter where the interpreter has participated in the choice of counsel.
(e) Except in the interpreters official capacity, no language interpreter shall discuss, report, or comment upon a matter in which the person serves as interpreter. Interpreters shall not disclose any communication that is privileged by law without the written consent of the parties to the communication, or pursuant to court order.
(f) A language interpreter shall report immediately to the appointing authority in the proceeding any solicitation or effort by another to induce or encourage the interpreter to violate any law, any provision of the rules which may be approved by the courts for the practice of language interpreting, or any provisions of this Code of Conduct.
(g) Language interpreters shall not give legal advice and shall refrain from the unauthorized practice of law.
[Adopted effective November 17, 1989; September 1, 2005.]
GR 11.3 Telephonic Interpretation
(a) Interpreters may be appointed to serve by telephone for brief, nonevidentiary proceedings, including initial appearances and arraignments, when interpreters are not readily available to the court. Telephone interpretation is not authorized for evidentiary hearings.
(b) RCW 2.43 and GR 11.2 must be followed regarding the interpreter's qualifications and other matters.
(c) Electronic equipment used during the hearing must ensure that the non-English speaking party hears all statements made by the participants. If electronic equipment is not available for simultaneous interpreting, the hearing shall be conducted to allow consecutive interpretation of each sentence.
(d) Attorney-client consultations must be interpreted confidentially.
(e) Written documents which would normally be orally translated by the interpreter must be read aloud to allow full oral translation of the material by the interpreter.
(f) An audio recording shall be made of all statements made on the record during their interpretation, and the same shall be preserved.
[Adopted effective July 19, 1987; amended effective December 10, 1993; September 1, 1997; September 1, 2005.]