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2001 Legislative Session

The Access Committee proposed four bills to the 2001 Legislative Assembly. Three became laws:

Or Laws 2001, ch 214, provides interpreters for non-English-speaking parents of youth in juvenile delinquency proceedings. [More]

Or Laws 2001, ch 242 , requires interpreters to state their qualifications for the record. [More]

Or Laws 2001, ch 243, provides court interpreters for grand jury proceedings. [More]



Interpreters in Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings


Before the 2001 legislative session, Oregon law limited court authority to appoint foreign language interpreters to parties to a case. In some juvenile delinquency cases, the youth speaks English, but the parents or guardians do not. Without the ability to understand the proceeding and court requirements, the parents, guardians, or other responsible adults cannot effectively participate or oversee that the youth complies with court requirements.

Because parents, guardians, and persons with rights of limited participation are not usually parties in a juvenile delinquency case, they were not eligible for court-appointed interpreter services before 2001. The Access Committee proposed SB 69 to authorize courts to appoint intereters for parents, guardians, and other responsible adults.

That bill became law and is now codified in ORS 45.275 - 45.285.

Interpreter Qualifications

Court interpreting requires substantial skill and professionalism to guarantee accuracy and fairness. In Oregon, the State Court Administrator oversees a statewide interpreter certification process to ensure that interpreters are qualified to interpret court proceedings. The process is demanding, as it should be. Not enough interpreters are certified, and tests are not available in enough languages to meet the need.

The Access Committee proposed SB 76 to require interpreters who have not been certified by the State Court Administrator under ORS 45.291 to submit their interpreter credentials and qualifications on the record. The measure also directed the State Court Administrator to establish a process for receiving comment and input into the policy and procedures of the interpreter certification program and to establish a process for appealing State Court Administrator denying certification. The bill became law (Or Laws 2001, ch 242) and is codified in ORS 40.325, 45.275, 45.288 and 45.291.

Interpreters in Grand Jury Proceedings

Before the 2001 legislative session, Oregon did not require that interpreters in grand jury proceedings be qualified or certified. The Access Committee proposed SB 77 to require appointment of a qualified interpreter who is also certified by the State Court Administrator under ORS 45.291 in grand jury proceedings. The bill provided for appointing a noncertified interpreter only if no certified interpreter is available. The bill became law (Chapter 243, 2001 Oregon Laws) and is codified in ORS 45.288 and 132.090.

Interpreters for Jurors

Currently, citizens who do not speak English fluently cannot serve on a jury. No statute allows appointment or payment for a foreign language interpreter, other than as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, or for interpreters to be in the jury room as the jury deliberates. The Access Committee proposed SB 78 to establish procedures for appointing certified foreign language interpreters and qualified translators for citizens called as jurors who do not speak English fluently. It would have appropriated money to the Judicial Department to pay interpreters and translators.

Because of its cost, the bill was still in committee on adjournment of the legislative session.

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