2007 Regular Session
To: Judiciary A
By: Representative Baker (74th)
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTIONS 9-21-71, 9-21-73, 9-21-75, 9-21-77, 9-21-79 AND 9-21-81, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE FOR THE USE OF INTERPRETERS IN PROCEEDINGS BEFORE STATE AGENCIES AND POLITICAL SUBDIVISIONS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 9-21-71, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
9-21-71. 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, or any person competent to translate or interpret oral or written communication in a foreign language during state agency proceedings or any proceedings in any political subdivision of the state.
(c) "Court proceedings" means a proceeding before any court of this state or a grand jury hearing.
SECTION 2. Section 9-21-73, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
9-21-73. (1) The Director of the Administrative Office of Courts shall establish a program to facilitate the use of interpreters in all courts, state agencies and proceedings in any political subdivision of the State of Mississippi.
(2) (a) The Administrative Office of Courts shall prescribe the qualifications of and certify persons who may serve as certified interpreters in all courts, state agencies and proceedings in any political subdivision of the State of Mississippi in bilingual proceedings. The Director of the Administrative Office of Courts may set and charge a reasonable fee for certification.
(b) The director shall maintain a current master list of all certified interpreters and shall report annually to the Supreme Court on the frequency of requests for and the use and effectiveness of the interpreters.
(3) In all * * * bilingual proceedings, the presiding judicial officer, with the assistance of the director, shall utilize the services of a certified interpreter to communicate verbatim all spoken or written words when the necessity therefor has been determined pursuant to Section 9-21-79.
(4) All state courts, state agencies and political subdivisions shall maintain on file * * * a list of all persons who have been certified as interpreters in accordance with the certification program established pursuant to this section.
SECTION 3. Section 9-21-75, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
9-21-75. The court, a state agency or a political subdivision may appoint either an interpreter who is paid or a volunteer interpreter.
SECTION 4. Section 9-21-77, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
9-21-77. (1) Prior to providing any service to a non-English speaking person, the interpreter shall subscribe to an oath that he or she shall interpret all communications in an accurate manner to the best of his or her 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, agency or political subdivision in an accurate manner to the best of your skill and knowledge?"
(3) 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 an interpreter shall be treated by the interpreter as confidential or privileged or both unless the court orders the interpreter to disclose such communications or the non-English speaker waives such confidentiality or privilege.
(4) 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 an interpreter shall not affect the privileged nature of any discussion.
SECTION 5. Section 9-21-79, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
9-21-79. (1) An interpreter is needed and an interpreter shall be appointed when the judge or hearing officer determines, after an examination of a party or witness, that: (a) the party cannot understand and speak English well enough to participate fully in the proceedings and to assist counsel; or (b) the witness cannot speak English so as to be understood directly by counsel, court, jury or other body.
(2) The court, agency or political subdivision should examine a party or witness on the record to determine whether an interpreter is needed if:
(a) A party or counsel requests such an examination;
(b) It appears * * * that the party or witness may not understand and speak English well enough to participate fully in the proceedings; or
(c) If the party or witness requests an interpreter. The fact that a person for whom English is a second language knows some English should not prohibit that individual from being allowed to have an interpreter.
(3) After the examination, the court, agency or political subdivision should state its conclusion on the record, and the file in the case shall be clearly marked and data entered electronically when appropriate by court, agency or political subdivision personnel to ensure that an interpreter will be present when needed in any subsequent proceeding.
(4) Upon a request by the non-English speaking person, by counsel, or by any other officer of the court, agency or political subdivision the court, agency or political subdivision shall determine whether the interpreter provided is able to communicate accurately with and translate information to and from the non-English speaking person. If it is determined that the interpreter cannot perform these functions, the court, agency or political subdivision shall provide the non-English speaking person with another interpreter.
SECTION 6. Section 9-21-81, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
9-21-81. (1) Any volunteer interpreter providing services under this act shall be paid reasonable expenses by the court, agency or political subdivision.
(2) The expenses of providing an interpreter in any * * * proceeding may be assessed by the court, agency or political subdivision as costs in the proceeding, or in the case of an indigent criminal defendant to be paid by the county.
SECTION 7. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2007.