Language Services Program

The Language Services Program is a city-wide unit of language professionals consisting of seven interpreter/translators and a program director. The program provides translation and interpreting services in cases in which clients do not speak English or have limited English proficiency, including arranging for contract interpreter services when necessary for languages other than Spanish. Interpreters from the Language Services Program or contract interpreters are made available to staff and their clients wherever and whenever language access is needed in Criminal Practice offices, on community visits, in the courts and by telephone.

All Society interpreters are fluent and literate in both English and Spanish, and possess excellent oral and written skills, as well as teaching skills. Besides their general command of the language, they are conversant with legal and medical terminology, as well as vocabulary related to drugs and alcohol, guns, cars, etc. They apply their skills to a wide range of situations, and are comfortable at all levels of linguistic performance, from coarse to colloquial to formal. Computer literacy and word-processing skills are required, as well as familiarity with the operation and procedures of the criminal justice system. All staff members of the Language Services Program hold a Master’s Degree in a discipline related to the field of languages, and several have professional certification as Court Interpreters. Staff of the Language Services program are fluent in Spanish, Polish, Portuguese and French.

As translators, their duties include simultaneous or consecutive interpreting for client and witness interviews, translating all attorney/client correspondence and other documents, such as: certificates, affidavits, minutes, statements, reference letters and medical reports. They transcribe videotapes and audio cassette recordings, 911 calls, wiretaps, and other oral statements. They also monitor the performance of court interpreters during official court proceedings and handle Spanish language telephone calls and inquiries.

Nora Davila, Program Director, trains and monitors newly-hired interpreters, serves as an expert witness on linguistic issues when requested by an attorney, and coordinates requests for interpreters and translators in languages other than Spanish. For services requiring languages other than Spanish, the staff members of the Language Services Program act as project managers and hire certified interpreters for cases, including interpreters available through telephone language line services and volunteers from local embassies and other legal interpreting services.