Pierce County Superior Court is pleased to announce several criminal case forms commonly used in court have been translated into Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese. The court expects a significant portion of the public with limited English language proficiency will benefit from the translation of criminal case forms, and will be offering the new forms to other courts throughout Washington.
“Pierce County Superior Court aims to minimize errors and better assure fair hearings for everyone by having translations in writing when we can,” said Pierce County Superior Court Judge Bryan Chushcoff. “Today’s announcement is one step toward achieving that goal.”
This development advances the court’s mission to actively manage its business so as to provide for fair, prompt and efficient resolution of disputes and to provide due process and individual justice in each case.
Because language is the principal medium of communication in all legal proceedings, the fairness of those proceedings—as measured by standards of due process, witness confrontation, and effective assistance of counsel—depends on the participants' ability to understand and speak the language used. The courts have traditionally dealt with this need by employing interpreters for non-English-speaking parties and witnesses.
“Courtroom interpretation is a sophisticated art which demands a broad vocabulary, excellent recall and good judgment as to the speaker's intended meaning. It also requires the ability to reproduce tone and nuance, and knowledge of legal terminology and slang,” Chushcoff said. “The work is further complicated by regional, cultural and class variations within a language, as well as by the fact that many words are culturally specific and cannot be accurately translated from one language to another.”
“For these reasons, even the best translators cannot avoid occasional misinterpretations, and no translation will convey precisely the same meaning as the original statement. The stakes are particularly high in criminal cases since even an innocent misinterpretation of testimony may result in an unjust conviction,” Chushcoff added.
To meet the need for interpreter services and to improve the quality of those services, Pierce County Superior Court judges decided to translate documents or forms commonly used in criminal case proceedings. The translated forms are:
- Order Establishing Conditions of Release
- Scheduling Order
- Order Continuing Trial
- Statement of Defendant on Plea of Guilty to Non-Sex Offense
- Statement of Defendant on Plea of Guilty to Sex Offense
- Statement of Defendant on Plea of Guilty (Misdemeanor)
- Attachment "B" (supplement to Plea of Guilty forms)
Chushcoff says the court extends its appreciation to Bruce Moran, Deputy Court Administrator, Jovi Lee, Interpreter Coordinator, Kun Park and Young Lee, Korean language interpreters, Marina Delahunt and Nikolay Kvasnyuk, Russian language interpreters, Daniel Badillo and Mindy Baade, Spanish language interpreters, and James Trinh and Rosemary Nguyen, Vietnamese language interpreters for their assistance with the new forms.
Bryan Chushcoff, Pierce County Superior Court Judge