2005 Regular Session
To: Judiciary, Division A
By: Senator(s) Harden
AN ACT TO ESTABLISH A VOLUNTEER COURT INTERPRETER SYSTEM; TO ENACT DEFINITIONS; TO REQUIRE VOLUNTEER INTERPRETERS TO SUBSCRIBE TO AN OATH OF FIDELITY AND CONFIDENTIALITY; TO ENACT TRAINING REQUIREMENTS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Definitions. The following words and phrases shall have the meanings ascribed to them unless the context clearly requires otherwise:
(a) "Non-English speaker" means any party or witness who cannot readily understand or communicate in spoken English and who consequently cannot equally participate in or benefit from the proceedings unless an interpreter is available to assist the individual. The fact that a person for whom English is a second language knows some English does not prohibit that individual from being allowed to have an interpreter.
(b) "Interpreter" means any person authorized by a court and competent to translate or interpret oral or written communication in a foreign language during court proceedings.
(c) "Court proceedings" means a proceeding before any court of this state or a grand jury hearing.
SECTION 2. Volunteer Interpreter System Created. There is hereby created a Volunteer Interpreter System for the use of the courts when any judge determines that any party to a proceeding before the court does not speak English well enough to meaningfully participate in the proceeding on the person's own behalf.
SECTION 3. Oath and Confidentiality. (1) Prior to providing any service to a non-English speaking person, the volunteer interpreter shall subscribe to an oath that he or she shall interpret all communications in an accurate manner to the best of the volunteer interpreter's skill and knowledge.
(2) The oath shall conform substantially to the following form:
Do you solemnly swear or affirm that you will faithfully interpret from (state the language) into English and from English into (state the language) the proceedings before this court in an accurate manner to the best of your skill and knowledge?
(3) Volunteer interpreters shall not voluntarily disclose any admission or communication that is declared to be confidential or privileged under state law. Out-of-court disclosures made by a non-English speaker communicating through a volunteer interpreter shall be treated by the volunteer interpreter as confidential or privileged or both unless the court orders the volunteer interpreter to disclose such communications or the non-English speaker waives such confidentiality or privilege.
(4) Volunteer interpreters shall not publicly discuss, report or offer an opinion concerning a matter in which they are engaged, even when that information is not privileged or required by law to be confidential.
(5) The presence of a volunteer interpreter shall not affect the privileged nature of any discussion.
SECTION 4. Training. Volunteer interpreters, in order to be eligible to appointment by a court, shall have undergone such training in the particulars of the operation of the courts of this state as may be prescribed by rule of the Supreme Court.
SECTION 5. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2005.