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1.1-11  Use of an Interpreter at Trial 

New October 8, 2010 

[You will recall that <insert names of all such witnesses> testified through an interpreter.] [In this case, <insert names of all such witnesses> will testify through an interpreter.] Our courts are open to everyone, regardless of their ability to understand and speak English. You are to draw no inference for or against any witness who (has offered/offers) testimony through an interpreter. 

Some of you may speak or understand the language used by the witness(es). Nevertheless, you must treat the interpreter’s English translation of the witness’ answers as evidence.  Even if you think that the interpreter makes a mistake, you must base your deliberations only on the official translation. What the witness(es) may have said in the foreign language, prior to the interpreter’s translation, is not evidence, and may not be considered by you in any way in your deliberations.  This ensures that all jurors consider the same evidence.  


United States v. Fuentes-Montijo, 68 F.3d 352, 355 (9th Cir. 1995); Diaz v. State, 743 A.2d 1166, 1179 (Del. 1999); People v. Colon, 211 A.D.2d 575, 621 N.Y.S.2d 606, appeal denied, 85 N.Y.2d 971, 653 N.E.2d 627, 629 N.Y.S.2d 731 (1995). 


This charge should be given before the foreign language witness testifies or at the beginning of trial. Judges should use their discretion in determining whether also to give this charge before the jury begins its deliberations.


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