CALLING FOR TESTING AND CERTIFICATION OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE INTERPRETERS IN PENNSYLVANIA COURTS
 
WHEREAS, the Court Interpreters Act of 1978 only certifies federal court interpreters in three languages, Spanish, Haitian-Creole, and Navajo, which does not meet the diverse linguistic needs of Pennsylvania courts;

WHEREAS, unlike the federal judiciary, Pennsylvania has no system to regulate the quality of interpreters used in its courts;

WHEREAS, the quality of interpretation is vital to the rights of limited English proficiency litigants in Pennsylvania courts;

WHEREAS, the predominantly monolingual trial judges and attorneys in Pennsylvania are ill-equipped to monitor the quality of Court interpretation;

WHEREAS, the use of interpreters has grown dramatically in the last ten years with the greater diversity in Pennsylvania's population;

WHEREAS, most vendors who supply interpreters to the courts do not test for linguistic competence;

WHEREAS, court interpreters are not held to any confidentiality or other professionalism requirement, and professionalism training would limit the personal biases of court interpreters as well as educate them to perform as officers of the court;

WHEREAS, traditional court recording of testimony fails to record the testimony of the limited English proficiency litigant or witness; the absence of a record in the language of the limited English proficient litigant or witness render a record incomplete on appeals; and, the courts are limited in their ability to evaluate trial objections due to the accuracy of interpretations, and the deaf and hard of hearing have a similar problem from the lack of an electronic recording of the trial interpretation;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association supports the institution of an independent court-based program to test and certify the linguistic and professional competency of the interpreters used in Pennsylvania's courts;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association authorizes its Chancellor to urge the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to institute an interpreter certification program in the Pennsylvania courts;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association authorizes its Chancellor to urge the U.S. Courts Administrator to expand the list of languages for which certification will be available under the Court Interpreters Act of 1978;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association authorizes its Chancellor to contact the appropriate court administrators about electronic recording of non-English and sign language testimony.

PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: June 27, 1994