- Associated Press - Friday, December 26, 2014

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Tougher requirements could soon arrive for interpreters inside Oklahoma’s courtrooms.

Several current interpreters are seeking stronger guidelines from the state Supreme Court, The Tulsa World reported Friday (http://bit.ly/1HL4E8f ).

“Nonqualified individuals that act as interpreters without proper training and certifications can derail a judicial process, even inadvertently,” according to Tulsa resident Sebastian Lantos. Defendants should have a reliable way to confront witnesses and help their lawyers, he said.

Lantos said he has been asking for stronger guidelines about a decade as a member of the Oklahoma Board of Courtroom Interpreters and the Translators and Interpreters Association of Oklahoma. The first formal request to the court arrived in 2007, from Gov. Brad Henry’s Advisory Council on Latin American and Hispanic Affairs.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court is reviewing a set of recommended rules sent in this year, general counsel Debra Charles said. A decision could come next month.

“The Oklahoma Supreme Court is committed to ensuring equal access to justice for all individuals regardless of the language they speak,” Charles said in an email to the newspaper. “Interpreters play an essential role in ensuring due process and helping court proceedings function efficiently and effectively.”

Lantos says interpreters and translators are needed in the judicial system. Interpreters deal with the spoken word, while translators concentrate on the written word.

“The civil litigant’s right to an interpreter must be statutorily provided in civil cases. It is not a constitutionally protected right but rather must be provided by a federal or state legislation,” Lantos said.

Charles said the law lets judges use uncertified people if obtaining a certified translator isn’t possible.

“A registry of certified interpreters will make it easier for judges, lawyers and parties to locate reliable interpreters who can provide accurate and consistent language services,” she said.

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Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com

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