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Racine County courts say interpreter demand is up

  • Associated Press
  • December 30, 2013 - 12:50 PM

RACINE, Wis. — Court officials in Racine County say they're seeing more demand for interpreters who speak Spanish, as well as those who speak certain European and Asian languages.

Fourteen foreign languages were used in Racine County courts in the first half of this year, up from 11 two years ago, The Journal Times of Racine reported (http://bit.ly/1cCr9zW ).

The biggest demand is for interpreters who speak Spanish, but the court also needs experts in Portuguese, Polish, Korean and Urdu, a language spoken in Pakistan, Bangladesh and parts of India.

"Whether you're innocent or guilty, you have the right to understand the court process, Judge Charles Constantine said.

He said language can be a barrier for all sorts of court interactions, not only those in criminal courts. People in divorce court or small-claims court also need to understand the proceedings and have the ability to communicate, he said.

It's not clear whether the increase in demand can be traced to an increase in the number of non-English speakers, he said. For example, some lawyers might have started requesting interpreter services more often for clients who understand a little English but still get lost when the conversation turns to complex legal matters.

Nancy Stone, a Spanish interpreter, said translators are needed even outside a court hearing, such as when attorneys visit their clients in jail.

Other recent requests for services include translators for Arabic, American Sign Language, Burmese, Gujarati, Hindi, Portuguese, Tagalog, Russian, Korean, Serbian and Vietnamese.

© 2014 Star Tribune