Honors Program

Midway Honors

Date of Award

5-2013

Thesis Professor(s)

R. Keeler

Thesis Professor Department

Political Science, International Affairs, and Public Administration

Thesis Reader(s)

Michele Crumley, Ardis Nelson

Abstract

In the United States, court interpretation services are as old as the country’s history. The cultural and rich ethnic diversity of the U.S. has continued to provide a need for interpretation services. However, it was not until 1978 under the Federal Court Interpreters Act that the federal government would institute a framework for the federal courts to follow (Public Law 95-539, 1978). State courts were left to establish their own methodologies for addressing the way in which court interpreters are used. As the U.S. continues to become more linguistically diverse, such services need to be made easily accessible whenever necessary.

In the court of law, one of the most critical elements is communication. The interaction taking place amongst the attorneys, defendants, plaintiffs, judges, and so forth must be effectively communicated in order to ensure that no person’s rights are infringed upon. Without this vital element, plaintiffs and defendants cannot be equally protected and justice cannot be served. There are measures taken to ensure that those who are not proficient in the English language have the opportunity to be represented, but the fact that they need somebody else to be their voice in the courtroom poses various issues that will be addressed in this research.

The following research presents the results of a case study of the Washington County Court System (hereafter referred to as WCCS) in East Tennessee. The purpose of the case study is to explore how court interpretation services are being addressed in this area. Study participants were asked about the relationship between Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Spanish speaking individuals and the courts, and their answers consistently suggested that the WCCS is going beyond the expectations set forth by the Administrative Office of the Courts of Tennessee.

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Copyright

Copyright by the authors.

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