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Judicial Mistranslation

News – Judicial Mistranslation
2008.02.21

A conviction is being challenged because of a poor translation. A waiver signed by the defendant contained several mistranslations of legal terms, which had occurred in the process of translating it from the original English into Spanish. The word ‘crime’, for example, was translated too literally as ‘crimen’, which in Spanish is reserved for very serious crimes rather than misdemeanours. Elsewhere, ‘the right to a lawyer at any time’ became ‘the right to a lawyer to any weather’ and ‘the purpose of this form’ became ‘the purpose of this way’. The defendant’s penalty was also translated as ‘one anus in jail’ because of a missing accent. There is legal precedent for convictions being overturned because of poor interpreting. The translation had been undertaken by a bilingual in-house clerk rather than a certified professional translator. Mara Simmons, director of the Foreign Language Interpreters Program at the Administrative Office of the Courts, remarked, ‘Sometimes people don’t understand that just because you’re bilingual, doesn’t make you qualified to interpret or translate.’ Global Lingo only ever uses qualified, certified and experienced professional translators to provide our legal translation services.

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