CANON 3. Impartiality and Avoidance of Conflict of Interest
Interpreters shall be impartial and unbiased and shall refrain from conduct that may give an appearance of bias. Interpreters shall disclose any real or perceived conflict of interest.
A. Any condition that interferes with the objectivity of an interpreter constitutes a conflict of interest. Before providing services in a matter, court interpreters shall disclose to all parties and presiding officials any prior involvement, whether personal or professional, that could be reasonably construed as a conflict of interest. Such disclosure(s) shall include, but not be limited to, the fact that the interpreter has previously been retained by one of the parties for private employment. Such disclosure(s) shall not include privileged or confidential information.
B. Whenever an interpreter has an actual or apparent conflict of interest, the interpreter shall declare in open court before appointment such conflict and the court shall determine whether the interpreter may serve in the case. Situations, including but not limited to the following, shall be presumed to create an actual or apparent conflict of interest:
(1) The interpreter is a friend, associate, or relative of a party or counsel for a party involved in the proceedings;
(2) The interpreter has served in an investigative capacity for any party involved in the case;
(3) The interpreter has previously been retained by a law enforcement agency or any party to assist in the preparation of the case at issue;
(4) The interpreter or the interpreter's spouse or child has a financial interest in the subject matter in controversy or is a party to the proceeding, or any other interest that would be affected by the outcome of the case;
(5) The interpreter has been involved in the choice of counsel or law firm for that case; or
(6) Any other situation in which the interpreter thinks his or her impartiality may be questioned or compromised.
C. Interpreters shall not serve in any matter in which payment for their services is contingent upon the outcome of the case.
The interpreter serves as an officer of the court and the interpreter's duty in a court proceeding is to serve the court and the public to which the court is a servant. This is true regardless of whether the interpreter is publicly retained at government expense or retained privately at the expense of one of the parties. Although an interpreter must disclose the fact that the interpreter interpreted for a party during out-of-court meetings, interviews, or other proceedings in the case at issue, ethical considerations do not preclude the interpreter from serving as the interpreter for multiple parties or for both the court and one or more parties in that case.
An individual who is, or may become, a witness is not permitted to serve as an interpreter in that same matter.
During the course of the proceedings, interpreters should not converse with parties, witnesses, jurors, attorneys, or with friends or relatives of any party, except in the discharge of their official functions. It is especially important that interpreters, who are often familiar with attorneys or other members of the courtroom work group, including law enforcement officers, refrain from casual and personal conversations with anyone in court that may convey an appearance of a special relationship or partiality to any of the court participants.
The interpreter should strive for professional detachment. Verbal and non-verbal displays of personal attitudes, prejudices, emotions, or opinions should be avoided at all times.
An interpreter who is also an attorney should not serve in both capacities in the same matter.
CANON 4. Professional Demeanor
Interpreters shall conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the dignity of the court and shall be as unobtrusive as possible.
Interpreters should know and observe the established protocol, rules, and procedures for delivering interpreting services. When interpreting testimony or making comments to be included in the record, interpreters should speak at a rate and volume that enable them to be heard and understood throughout the courtroom, but the interpreter's presence should otherwise be as unobtrusive as possible. Interpreters should work without drawing undue or inappropriate attention to themselves. Interpreters should dress in a manner that is consistent with the dignity of the proceedings of the court. Interpreters should avoid obstructing the view of any of the individuals involved in the proceedings.
Interpreters are encouraged to avoid personal or professional conduct that could discredit the court.
CANON 5. Confidentiality
Interpreters shall protect the confidentiality of all privileged and other confidential information.
The interpreter must protect and uphold the confidentiality of all privileged information obtained during the course of her or his duties. It is especially important that the interpreter understands and upholds the attorney-client privilege, which requires confidentiality with respect to any communication between attorney and client. It is equally important for the interpreter to be aware that when the attorney is not present, there is no attorney-client privilege and the interpreter may be held to divulge any information gained. The interpreter, therefore, must avoid any such situation. This rule also applies to other types of privileged communications.
Interpreters must also refrain from repeating or disclosing information obtained by them in the course of their employment that may be relevant to the legal proceeding.
In the event that an interpreter becomes aware of information that suggests the threat of imminent harm to someone or relates to a crime being committed during the course of the proceedings, the interpreter should immediately disclose the information to an appropriate authority within the judicial system and seek advice in regard to the potential conflict in professional responsibility.
CANON 6. Restriction of Public Comment
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.
CANON 7. Scope of Practice
Interpreters shall limit themselves to interpreting or translating, and shall not give legal advice, express personal opinions to individuals for whom they are interpreting, or engage in any other activities which may be construed to constitute a service other than interpreting or translating while serving as an interpreter.
Since interpreters are responsible only for enabling others to communicate, they should limit themselves to the activity of interpreting or translating only. Interpreters should refrain from initiating communications while interpreting at all times except as set out below.
Interpreters may be required to initiate communications during a proceeding when they find it necessary to seek assistance in performing their duties. Examples of such circumstances include seeking direction when unable to understand or express a word or thought, requesting speakers to moderate their rate of communication or repeat or rephrase something, correcting their own interpreting errors, or notifying the court of reservations about their ability to satisfy an assignment competently. In such instances they should refer to themselves in the third person as "the interpreter," making it clear and on the record that they are speaking for themselves.
At no time can an interpreter give advice, but an interpreter may interpret legal advice from an attorney to any party while that attorney is giving it. An interpreter should not explain the purpose of forms, services, or otherwise act as counselors or advisors. The interpreter may translate language on a form in the presence of an attorney or authorized legal personnel for a person who is filling out the form, but may not explain the form or its purpose for such a person.
The interpreter should not personally serve to perform official acts that are the official responsibility of other court officials including, but not limited to, court clerks, pretrial release investigators or interviewers, or probation officers, except as required by and in the presence of such officials.