An interpreter is subject to the provisions of these sections relating to competency, qualification as an expert, and the administration of an oath or affirmation that he or she will make a true translation.
This section is derived from Fed. R. Evid. 604 and Proposed Mass. R. Evid. 604 and is consistent with Massachusetts law. See Commonwealth v. Festa, 369 Mass. 419, 429–430, 341 N.E.2d 276, 283–284 (1976) (establishing guidelines for when witnesses testify through an interpreter). See G. L. c. 221C, § 2 (a non-English speaker has the right to an interpreter throughout the proceedings, whether criminal or civil); Mass. R. Civ. P. 43(f); Mass. R. Crim. P. 41. The trial judge has discretion to appoint an interpreter. Commonwealth v. Esteves, 46 Mass. App. Ct. 339, 345, 705 N.E.2d 1158, 1162, reversed and remanded on other grounds, 429 Mass. 636, 710 N.E.2d 963 (1999). “[W]hen a witness testifies in a foreign language, the English translation is the only evidence, not the testimony in the original language.” Id. All spoken-language court interpreters and court interpreters who provide services to the Trial Court for deaf and hard-of-hearing persons are governed by the “Standards and Procedures of the Office of Court Interpreter Services,” 1143 Mass. Reg. 15 (Nov. 13, 2009), which include a Code of Professional Conduct that includes the subjects of conflict of interest, confidentiality, and interpreting protocols. See http://www.mass.gov/courts/ocis-standards-procedures.pdf.
Cross-Reference: Section 521, Sign Language Interpreter–Client Privilege; Section 522, Interpreter-Client Privilege; “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.