Legal Question in Civil Litigation in North Carolina

What legal protections exist for interpreters in situations where someone uses illegal speech? I'll give 3 examples in case the rules apply differently in different scenarios (the third one is contrived on purpose for the sake of argument).

Example 1: Interpreter is interpreting for a job interview between Boss (English-speaking) and Applicant (Korean-speaking). Boss notices Applicant's wedding ring and asks about marital status.

Example 2: Interpreter is interpreting for a parent-teacher conference between Teacher (English-speaking) and Mother (Spanish-speaking). Teacher asks Mother if she and her spouse immigrated from Guatemala legally and if they could provide legal proof of immigration status.

Example 3: Interpreter is interpreting in American Sign Language (ASL) for a public address by a state governor. The event is being broadcast on live television. The state governor declares, "We, the State of _______, hereby secede from and denounce the United States of America! I declare war against the USA and henceforth mandate that all able-bodied citizens who are 18 and older must register for a draft to fight against those Fahrenheit-using Yanks!"

Can these interpreters be prosecuted for rendering the illegal speech in the target language? If not, what laws protect them?

Asked on 1/29/22, 12:49 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

An interpreters job is merely to interpret exactly as possible what is said. I am un aware of any specific immunity or protections that would protect them from prosecution. The most common crime an interpreter would be guilty of is aiding and abetting IF the interpreter had some stake in the out come of what they were interpreting but for mere translating and interpreter is not responsible for something someone else says.

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Answered on 1/29/22, 2:07 pm

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