BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 2370
                                                                  Page 1

          Date of Hearing:  May 6, 2014

                           ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
                                Bob Wieckowski, Chair
                     AB 2370 (Chau) - As Amended: March 28, 2014

                              As Proposed to be Amended

           SUBJECT  :  COURT INTERPRETERS

           KEY ISSUE  :  SHOULD THE QUALIFICATIONS OF COURT INTERPRETERS BE  
          BETTER DOCUMENTED TO ADDRESS CONCERNS ABOUT MISREPRESENTATIONS? 
          
                                      SYNOPSIS
          
          This bill seeks to improve court interpreter services by  
          requiring that certain facts consistent with existing law be  
          stated on the record when a court engages a non-certified or  
          non-registered interpreter to provide services.  Supporters  
          believe that some of the persons so engaged are not in fact  
          qualified to serve as interpreters under existing requirements.   
          By requiring that the name and qualifications of interpreters be  
          stated on the record, it is expected that potential  
          misrepresentations to the court will be deterred or detected,  
          thereby improving the quality of court interpretation. 

           SUMMARY  :  Requires specified information to be stated on the  
          record when a non-certified or non-registered court interpreter  
          is used.  Specifically,  this bill  : 

          1)Requires the judge in a court proceeding, when using a  
            non-certified or registered interpreter, to require the name  
            of the interpreter and a statement that he or she meets the  
            qualification requirements specified to be stated on the  
            record.

          2)Requires the judge in a court proceeding when using a  
            certified or registered court reporter, to state on the  
            record, other things, the name of the interpreter, the status  
            of his or her interpreter certification, and a statement that  
            the interpreter's oath was administered to the interpreter, or  
            that he or she has an oath on file with the court, as  
            specified.

           EXISTING LAW  :








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          1)Provides for the regulation of court interpreters, and  
            requires the Judicial Council to designate the languages for  
            which certification programs shall be established.   
            (Government Code section 68562.)

          2)Provides that any person who interprets in a court proceeding  
            using a language designated by the Judicial Council is  
            required to be a certified court interpreter for the language  
            used.  (Government Code section 68561.)

          3)Authorizes the court, for good cause, to appoint an  
            interpreter who does not hold an interpreter certificate for a  
            designated language and authorizes a person who interprets in  
            a court proceeding using a language not designated by the  
            Judicial Council to be qualified by the court under  
            qualification procedures and guidelines adopted by the  
            council.  (Government Code section 68561.)

          4)Requires interpreters to establish to the court that they meet  
            the requirements described above under procedures adopted by  
            the Judicial Council and also requires the court record to  
            show that the interpreter is a certified interpreter or  
            qualified as an interpreter for good cause or for a  
            non-designated language, as specified.  (Government Code  
            section 68564.)
           
          FISCAL EFFECT  :  As currently in print this bill is keyed  
          non-fiscal.

           COMMENTS  :  The author explains the rationale for the bill as  
          follows:

               AB 2370 establishes a procedure for courts to better  
               identify certified interpreters in all court proceedings.  

               Nearly seven million Californians cannot access the courts  
               without significant language assistance. As the population  
               of limited English proficient individuals and the demand  
               for court interpreters increases in California, and as the  
               Judicial Council continues to take action to expand the use  
               of certified court interpreters to meet federal compliance  
               standards, it is crucial to have identification procedures  
               in place for judges to better verify the qualifications of  
               interpreters in court proceedings.  








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               Under current law, local courts are required to follow  
               procedures to identify certified v. non-certified  
               interpreters. Non-certified interpreters may only be  
               assigned when a certified interpreter is unavailable.  

               A certified interpreter must take an oath that he or she  
               will make a true interpretation of the court proceeding  
               with his or her best skill and judgment. This oath is  
               administered by a judge and a written oath is then signed  
               by the interpreter and put on file.  This process is known  
               as having an "oath on file" and provides efficiency so that  
               a new oath does not have to be administered during each  
               court proceeding.  Having an 'oath on file' is also the  
               courts way of identifying certified interpreters v.  
               non-certified interpreters.  

               However, there is no statutory requirement for a judge to  
               verify the qualifications of an interpreter who claims to  
               be certified, or claims to have an "oath on file."   
               Instead, non-certified interpreters often say they have an  
               oath on file, thus giving a false impression that they are  
               certified. This results in judges struggling to recognize  
               when an interpreter is actually certified and when there is  
               a need to follow court procedures for qualifying a  
               non-certified interpreter.  

               Ensuring that a certified interpreter has a certification  
               number, certification status, and badge or photo  
               identification would increase the accuracy of determining  
               whether the court proceeding has received services from a  
               certified interpreter or a non-certified interpreter. 

               AB 2370 would increase accountability for the use of  
               certified court interpreters and prevents any  
               misrepresentation of certification by requiring a judge to  
               direct the certified interpreter to state, for the record,  
               their name and certification status, show photo  
               identification, identify the language that will be  
               interpreted and verify the filing of their oath with the  
               court.

           This Bill Would Create A Record of Compliance With Existing  
          Rules Requiring Use of Qualified Interpreters.   Existing law  
          provides that any person who interprets in a court proceeding  








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          using a language designated by the Judicial Council is generally  
          required to be a certified court interpreter for the language  
          used, but authorizes the court for good cause to appoint an  
          interpreter who is not certified or registered to be qualified  
          by the court under qualification procedures and guidelines  
          adopted by the council.  Existing law requires interpreters to  
          establish to the court that they meet the specified criteria,  
          and requires the court record to show that the interpreter is a  
          certified interpreter or qualified as an interpreter for good  
          cause or for a non-designated language, as specified.  

          This bill is prompted by concerns that existing requirements are  
          either not being followed or are not being properly  
          demonstrated.  According to the sponsor, California Federation  
          of Interpreters, some persons engaged by the courts to provide  
          interpreter services have deceived the courts by misrepresenting  
          their status and qualifications.  CFI contends that this bill  
          would increase accuracy, accountability and supervision.
           
          Author's Technical Amendments  .  To clarify the intent of the  
          measure, the author proposes the following technical amendments.

          Section 68561 of the Government Code is amended to read:

          (f) If a court uses  a   qualified  interpreter  qualified  pursuant  
          to subdivision (c) or (d), the   presiding   judge in the court  
          proceeding shall require the following to be stated on the  
          record:
          (1) The name of the qualified interpreter.
          (2) A statement that the qualified interpreter meets the  
          requirements of subdivision (c) or (d).
          (g) If a court uses a certified  or registered  court interpreter,  
          as defined by Section 68566, the   presiding   judge in the court  
          proceeding shall require the following to be stated on the  
          record:
          (1) The name of the certified  or registered  court interpreter,  
          as listed on his or her court interpreter certification.
          (2) The status of his or her interpreter certification  or  
          registration,  including his or her current certification  or  
          registration  number.
          (3) A statement that the certified  or registered  court  
          interpreter has presented photo identification or a certified  
          interpreter identification badge to the court.
          (4) The language to be interpreted.
          (5) A statement that the interpreter's oath was administered to  








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          the certified  or registered  court interpreter or that he or she  
          has an oath on file with the court.
           
          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION :   

           Support 
           
          California Federation of Interpreters (sponsor)

           Opposition 
           
          None on file
           
          Analysis Prepared by  :  Kevin G. Baker / JUD. / (916) 319-2334