When dealing with critical information, such as evidence or witness testimony, a certified interpreter’s job becomes vital in the courtroom. For more than a decade, Sebastian Lantos has been pushing for stricter guidelines in the Oklahoma judicial system. Currently, the state Supreme Court is considering these changes. Lantos, who is on the Oklahoma Board of Courtroom Interpreters, strongly believes that unqualified interpreters pose risks in the courtroom. Recently, he shared his thoughts with us:
Telelanguage: What positive changes do you anticipate happening should the ruling favor the new stricter guidelines you proposed?
Sebastian Lantos: I was only one of those who proposed it. I am sure that many Courts saw the need and proposed it as well. I believe the issue was to convince legislators to assign funds and implement the program. The judicial system is complex and by nature controversial. Any change that help the due process is welcome for the benefit of the people involved, especially immigrants who may be the majority of those needing quality interpreting. In the judicial process for a witness to be able to express what happened or a defendant to be able to explain a situation, is a cornerstone of our culture and creates respect and faith in our way of living.
Telelanguage: Strongest piece of advice/encouragement you can give someone going into a career in court interpreting regarding certifications and following the code of ethics?
Sebastian Lantos: All ethical canons are important, however, throughout the years some stand out as especially important to me:
Be professional, do not play the junior police officer or try to explain what has not been said to the defendant. Be impartial. Don’t “make friends”, just do a professional job.
If you hear a poor interpreting that is material to the process, you make a mistake yourself, or need clarification about something: speak up following the protocol for those situations.
Pay attention to the registry, specially the low registry: keep studying idioms, expressions and even foul language that can make a more precise interpretation of what is said.
Interpreters in the judicial system must acquire the correct certifications in order to deliver accurate interpretations, as well as have a deep understanding of language and cultural knowledge. When looking for an interpreter who has received proper certifications, choose one from a qualified interpreter language service provider. Interpreters at Telelanguage are certified and are able to speak in 200 languages. Contact one of our 2,000 live telephonic interpreters here at 888-983-5352 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Sebastian Lantos is a current board member of the Oklahoma Board of Interpreters. To find out more about Sebastian, please follow this link: Lantos Consulting