CHAPTER SCR 63
CODE OF ETHICS FOR COURT INTERPRETERS
SCR 63.001   Citation of rules; definitions.
SCR 63.002   Preamble.
SCR 63.003   Applicability.
SCR 63.004   Interpretation.
SCR 63.01   Accuracy and completeness.
SCR 63.02   Representation of qualifications.
SCR 63.03   Impartiality and avoidance of conflict of interest.
SCR 63.04   Professional demeanor.
SCR 63.05   Confidentiality.
SCR 63.06   Restriction on public comment.
SCR 63.07   Scope of practice.
SCR 63.08   Assessing and reporting impediments to performance.
SCR 63.09   Duty to report ethical violations.
SCR 63.10   Professional development.
SCR 63 Note Note: SCR Chapter 63 was adopted July 1, 2002.
63.001 SCR 63.001 Citation of rules; definitions.
63.001(1)(1) SCR 63.001 to 63.10 may be cited as the “Code of Ethics for Court Interpreters."
63.001(2) (2) In this chapter “code" means the Code of Ethics for Court Interpreters.
63.001(3) (3) “Shall" is used in the code to define principles to which adherence is required.
SCR 63.001 History History: Sup. Ct. Order No. 01-17, 2002 WI 39, 250 Wis. 2d xv.
SCR 63.001 Note SCR 63.002 Preamble. Many persons are partially or completely excluded from participation in court proceedings due to limited proficiency in the English language, as described in ss. 885.37 (1) (b) and 885.38 (1) (b), stats. Communication barriers must be removed as much as is reasonably possible so that these persons may enjoy equal access to justice. Qualified interpreters are highly skilled professionals who help judges conduct hearings justly and efficiently when communication barriers exist.
SCR 63.001 History History: Sup. Ct. Order No. 01-17, 2002 WI 39, 250 Wis. 2d xv.
63.003 SCR 63.003 Applicability. The code governs the delivery of services by foreign language and sign language interpreters working in the courts of the State of Wisconsin. Its purpose is to define the duties of interpreters and thereby enhance the administration of justice and promote public confidence in the courts. The code also applies to real time reporters when functioning in the capacity of providing access to court users.
SCR 63.003 History History: Sup. Ct. Order No. 01-17, 2002 WI 39, 250 Wis. 2d xv.
63.004 SCR 63.004 Interpretation. The comments accompanying this code are not adopted. The comments are intended as guides to interpretation, but the text of each rule is authoritative. If a court policy or routine practice appears to conflict with any provision of the code the policy or practice should be reviewed for modification.
SCR 63.004 History History: Sup. Ct. Order No. 01-17, 2002 WI 39, 250 Wis. 2d xv.
63.01 SCR 63.01 Accuracy and completeness. Interpreters shall render a complete and accurate interpretation or sight translation by reproducing in the target language the closest natural equivalent of the source language message, without altering, omitting, or adding anything to the meaning of what is stated or written, and without explanation.
SCR 63.01 History History: Sup. Ct. Order No. 01-17, 2002 WI 39, 250 Wis. 2d xv.
SCR 63.01 Note Comment: Interpreters have a twofold role: (1) to ensure that court proceedings reflect, in English, precisely what was said by persons of limited English proficiency; and (2) to place persons of limited English proficiency on an equal footing with persons who understand English. This creates an obligation to conserve every element of information contained in a source language communication when it is rendered in the target language.
SCR 63.01 Annotation Therefore, interpreters are required to apply their best skills and judgment to preserve, as faithfully as is reasonably possible and without editing, the meaning of what is said, including the style or register of speech, the ambiguities and nuances of the speaker, and the level of language that best conveys the original meaning of the source language. Verbatim, “word for word", or literal oral interpretations are inappropriate when they distort the meaning of what was said in the source language. However, every spoken statement, even if it appears non-responsive, obscene, rambling, or incoherent should be interpreted. This includes apparent misstatements.
SCR 63.01 Annotation Interpreters should not interject any statement or elaboration of their own. If the need arises to explain an interpreting problem, such as a term or phrase with no direct equivalent in the target language or a misunderstanding that only the interpreter can clarify, the interpreter should ask the court's permission to provide an explanation.
SCR 63.01 Annotation Spoken language interpreters should convey the emotional emphasis of the speaker without reenacting or mimicking the speaker's emotions, or dramatic gestures. Sign language interpreters, however, must employ all of the visual cues that the language they are interpreting for requires-including facial expressions, body language, and hand gestures. Judges should ensure that court participants do not confuse these essential elements of the interpreted language with inappropriate interpreter conduct. Any challenge to the interpreter's conduct should be directed to the judge.
SCR 63.01 Annotation The obligation to preserve accuracy includes the interpreter's duty to correct any errors of interpretation discovered during the proceeding. Interpreters should demonstrate their professionalism by objectively analyzing any challenge to their performance.
SCR 63.01 Annotation The ethical responsibility to interpret accurately and completely includes the responsibility of being properly prepared for interpreting assignments. Interpreters are encouraged to obtain documents and other information necessary to familiarize themselves with the nature and purpose of a proceeding. Prior preparation is generally described below, and is especially important when testimony or documents include highly specialized terminology and subject matter.
SCR 63.01 Annotation In order to avoid any impropriety or appearance of impropriety, interpreters should seek leave of the court before conducting any preparation other than the review of public documents in the court file. Courts should in their discretion freely grant such leave in order to assist interpreters to discharge their professional responsibilities.
Preparation might include but is not limited to:
SCR 63.01 Annotation (1) review of public documents in the court file, such as motions and supporting affidavits, witness lists and jury instructions; the criminal complaint, information, and preliminary hearing transcript in a criminal case; and the summons, complaint, and answer in a civil case;
SCR 63.01 Annotation (2) review of documents in the possession of counsel, such as police reports, witness summaries, deposition transcripts and presentence investigation reports;
SCR 63.01 Annotation (3) contacting previous interpreters involved in the case for information on language use/style;
SCR 63.01 Annotation (4) contacting attorneys involved in the case for additional information on anticipated testimony or exhibits;
SCR 63.01 Annotation (5) anticipating and discussing interpreting issues related to the case with the judge, but only in the presence of counsel unless the court directs otherwise.
63.02 SCR 63.02 Representation of qualifications. Interpreters shall accurately and completely represent their certifications, training, and experience.
SCR 63.02 History History: Sup. Ct. Order No. 01-17, 2002 WI 39, 250 Wis. 2d xv.
SCR 63.02 Note Comment: Acceptance of a case by an interpreter conveys linguistic competency in legal settings. Withdrawing, or being asked to withdraw, after a court proceeding has begun is disruptive and wasteful of scarce public resources. It is therefore essential that interpreters present a complete and truthful account of their training, certifications, and experience prior to appointment so the court can fairly evaluate their qualifications for delivering interpreting services.
63.03 SCR 63.03 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 to the judge and the parties.
SCR 63.03 History History: Sup. Ct. Order No. 01-17, 2002 WI 39, 250 Wis. 2d xv.
SCR 63.03 Note Comment: Interpreters serve as officers of the court. Their duties in a court proceeding are to serve the court and the public regardless of whether publicly or privately retained.
SCR 63.03 Annotation Interpreters should avoid any conduct or behavior that presents the appearance of favoritism toward anyone. Interpreters should maintain professional relationships with persons using their services, discourage personal dependence on the interpreter, and avoid participation in the proceedings other than as an interpreter.
SCR 63.03 Annotation During the course of the proceedings, interpreters of record should not converse with parties, witnesses, jurors, attorneys, or with friends or relatives of any party, except in the discharge of their official functions. Official functions may include an informal pre-appearance assessment to include the following:
SCR 63.03 Annotation (1) culturally appropriate introductions;
SCR 63.03 Annotation (2) a determination of variety, mode, or level of communication;
SCR 63.03 Annotation (3) a determination of potential conflicts of interest; and
SCR 63.03 Annotation (4) a description of the interpreter's role and function.
SCR 63.03 Annotation Interpreters should strive for professional detachment. Verbal and non-verbal displays of personal attitudes, prejudices, emotions, or opinions must be avoided at all times.
SCR 63.03 Annotation Interpreters shall not solicit or accept any payment, gift, or gratuities in addition to compensation from the court.
SCR 63.03 Annotation Any condition that interferes with the objectivity of an interpreter constitutes a conflict of interest and must be disclosed to the judge. Interpreters should only divulge necessary information when disclosing the conflict of interest. The disclosure shall not include privileged or confidential information. The following circumstances create potential conflicts of interest that must be disclosed:
SCR 63.03 Annotation (1) the interpreter is a friend, associate, or relative of a party, counsel for a party, a witness, or a victim (in a criminal case) involved in the proceedings;
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Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules updated by the Legislative Reference Bureau. Current through all Supreme Court Orders entered on or before March 21, 2017. Report errors at (608) 266-3561, FAX 264-6948.