(a) Definitions. For the purpose of this section, the following words shall have the following meanings:
(1) Client. A “client” is a person rendered interpreting services by a qualified interpreter.
(2) Qualified Interpreter. A “qualified interpreter” is a person skilled in sign language or oral interpretation and transliteration, has the ability to communicate accurately with a deaf or hearing-impaired person, and is able to translate information to and from such hearing-impaired person.
(3) Confidential Communication. A communication is confidential if a client has a reasonable expectation or intent that it not be disclosed to persons other than those to whom such disclosure is made.
(b) Privilege. A client has a privilege to prevent a qualified interpreter from disclosing a confidential communication between one or more persons where the communication was facilitated by the interpreter.
Subsection (a). This subsection is derived nearly verbatim from G. L. c. 221, § 92A. The statute’s definition of a “qualified interpreter” states that “[a]n interpreter shall be deemed qualified or intermediary as determined by the Office of Deafness, based upon the recommendations of the Massachusetts Registry of the Deaf, the Massachusetts State Association of the Deaf and other appropriate agencies.” G. L. c. 221, § 92A.
Subsection (b). This subsection is derived nearly verbatim from G. L. c. 221, § 92A. The portion of G. L. c. 221, § 92A, that establishes the privilege references “a certified sign language interpreter,” but the statute does not specifically define that term. Accordingly, to be consistent with the terms actually defined in G. L. c. 221, § 92A, this subsection uses the term “qualified interpreter.” There is no case law in Massachusetts which defines the scope of this privilege.
Appointment of Interpreter. The interpreter must be appointed by the court as part of a court proceeding. See G. L. c. 221, § 92A (“In any proceeding in any court in which a deaf or hearing-impaired person is a party or a witness . . . such court . . . shall appoint a qualified interpreter to interpret the proceedings”). See also Mass. R. Crim. P. 41 (“The judge may appoint an interpreter or expert if justice so requires and may determine the reasonable compensation for such services and direct payment therefor.”); Mass. R. Civ. P. 43(f) (“The court may appoint an interpreter of its own selection and may fix his reasonable compensation. The compensation shall be paid out of funds provided by law or by one or more of the parties as the court may direct, and may be taxed ultimately as costs, in the discretion of the court.”).
Cross-Reference: Section 604, Interpreters; “Standards and Procedures of the Office of Court Interpreter Services,” 1143 Mass. Reg. 15 (Nov. 13, 2009), available at http://www.mass.gov/courts/ocis-standards-procedures.pdf.