Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives
in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same,
SECTION 1. The purposes of this act are (1) to provide the broadest possible protection for the rights of non-English speaking persons to understand and to be understood when engaged as parties or witnesses in legal proceedings in the trial court departments and (2) to institute a pilot project for initially effectuating the foregoing in Essex county, so as to ascertain and resolve problems, calculate and project costs and otherwise make more likely an efficient operation when the system is instituted statewide. This act shall be liberally interpreted to effectuate these purposes. The provisions of this act shall not be construed to limit the inherent power of a judge to appoint an interpreter in any other proceeding.
SECTION 2. The General Laws are hereby amended by inserting after chapter 221B, inserted by section 21 of chapter 310 of the acts of 1986, the following chapter:- `tuc CHAPTER 221C. COURT INTERPRETERS FOR THE TRIAL COURT.
Section 1. For the purpose of this chapter, the following words shall have the following meanings:
"Certified interpreter", an interpreter who has been duly trained and certified under the direction of the coordinator of interpreter services pursuant to subsection (e) of section seven.
"Interpreter", a person who is readily able to interpret written and spoken language simultaneously and consecutively from English to the language of the non-English speaker or from said language to English.
"Judge", a judge or justice, or a clerk-magistrate when acting in a magisterial capacity, of a trial court department.
"Non-English speaker", a person who cannot speak or understand, or has difficulty in speaking or understanding, the English language, because he uses only or primarily a spoken language other than English.
"Qualified interpreter", a certified interpreter who has also passed the examination and been qualified for interpreting in the federal courts by the United States district court for the district of Massachusetts.
Section 2. A non-English speaker, throughout a legal proceeding, shall have a right to the assistance of a qualified interpreter who shall be appointed by the judge, unless the judge finds that no qualified interpreter of the non-English speaker's language is reasonably available, in which event the non-English speaker shall have the right to a certified interpreter, who shall be appointed by the judge. The court shall report to the coordinator of interpreter services every instance in which a qualified interpreter was found not to be reasonably available.
Section 3. (a) A waiver of the right to an interpreter by a non-English speaker shall be effective only when approved by a judge after said non-English speaker has consulted with counsel and had explained to him, through an interpreter, in open court by the judge the nature and effect of such waiver. The judge may approve a waiver only upon finding that it is knowingly and voluntarily made. If such waiver is approved, the judge shall ensure that a recitation of the procedure followed pursuant to this subsection is made part of the record.
(b) The failure of a non-English speaker to request an interpreter shall not be deemed a waiver of such right, and a non-English speaker may retract any waiver of his right to an interpreter at any stage of the proceeding and indicate his desire to be assisted by an interpreter.
Section 4. (a) Before beginning to interpret in any proceeding an interpreter shall swear or affirm that he will make true and impartial interpretation using his best skill and judgment in accordance with the standards prescribed by law and the ethics of the interpreter profession.
(b) In any proceeding, the judge may order all of the testimony of a non-English speaker and its interpretation to be electronically recorded for use in audio or visual verification of the official transcript of the proceedings.
(c) Disclosures made out of court by communications of a non-English speaker through an interpreter to another person shall be a privileged communication and said interpreter shall not disclose such communication without permission of said non-English speaker; provided, however, that such non-English speaker had a reasonable expectation or intent that such communication would not be so disclosed.
Section 5. Any of the following actions shall be good cause for a judge to remove an interpreter:
(a) knowingly and willfully making false interpretation while serving in an official capacity;
(b) knowingly and willfully disclosing confidential or privileged information obtained while serving in an official capacity;
(c) failing to follow the standards prescribed by law and the ethics of the interpreter profession; or
(d) being unable to interpret adequately, including where the interpreter self-reports such inability.
Section 6. Interpreters appointed pursuant to this chapter shall be reimbursed for actual expenses and compensated for their services. Adequate compensation for services shall be determined by a schedule of fees adopted by the committee pursuant to subsection (d) of section seven.
Section 7. (a) There shall be a committee for the administration of interpreters for the trial court, which committee shall consist of the chief administrative justice of the trial court, who shall be the chairman of said committee, the administrative justice of the district court department and one other justice and one clerk-magistrate of said department appointed by said administrative justice, a justice and a clerk or an assistant clerk of the superior court department appointed by the administrative justice of said department, a judge of the probate and family court department appointed by the administrative judge of said department and one other justice, judge or clerk-magistrate appointed by the chief administrative justice of the trial court.
(b) Following the standards and procedures established by the chief administrative justice of the trial court, the committee shall advertise, screen applications, interview, select and appoint the coordinator of court interpreter services, who shall serve at the pleasure of said committee.
(c) There shall be within the office of the chief administrative justice a coordinator of court interpreter services for the trial court and such other professional and clerical personnel as may be necessary in the judgment of said coordinator and the committee.
(d) The coordinator or the committee shall propose standards and procedures for the training, professional conduct, certification, qualification and adequate compensation of certified and qualified interpreters. Notice of hearing on any such proposed standards or procedures shall be published in the Massachusetts Register as if they were administrative regulations to be adopted pursuant to section two of chapter thirty A; and the proposed standards or procedures shall be reproduced and distributed to organizations representing the interests of foreign language users, with notice of the public hearing date, which shall occur no sooner than sixty days thereafter. After due consideration of public comment at the public hearing or otherwise, the committee shall adopt final standards and procedures and cause the same to be published in the Massachusetts Register.
(e) The coordinator of court interpreter services shall administer the interpreter program in the trial court to insure that the purposes of this chapter are carried out. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing the coordinator shall specifically:
(1) establish and conduct a training program for interpreters in which they shall be trained and examined on language proficiency, proper conduct in court, professional ethics and other matters deemed appropriate and after successfully completing the course shall be duly certified;
(2) compile and maintain lists of persons who have been certified and qualified and periodically communicate this information to the several departments and divisions of the trial court;
(3) after due notice and hearing, remove anyone from such a list for inadequate performance or other good cause as provided in section five;
(4) facilitate the prompt payment of interpreters for services rendered; and
(5) gather statistics, conduct studies and make reports of the results thereof and of the administration of the program generally.
SECTION 3. Nothing in this act shall limit any rights, privileges, entitlements, powers or immunities of a speech or hearing impaired person pursuant to section ninety-two A of chapter two hundred and twenty-one of the General Laws.
SECTION 4. (a) Section three of this act and subsections (a), (b) and (c) of section seven of chapter two hundred and twenty-one A, inserted by section two of this act, shall take effect on March second, nineteen hundred and eighty-seven.
(b) With respect to the trial court departments in Essex county:
(1) subsections (d) and (e) of said section seven of said chapter two hundred and twenty-one A shall take effect on July first, nineteen hundred and eighty-seven, and
(2) the remainder of this act shall take effect on October first, nineteen hundred and eighty-seven.
(c) With respect to the trial court departments in counties other than Essex, subsection (d) and (e) of said section seven and the remainder of this act shall take effect when certified as appropriate by the chief administrative justice of the trial court in a report to the general court.