Caught off guard


As of late I became lax and didn’t prepare properly for once-a-week hearings. Years ago I regularly researched terms, prepared a list with parties to appear with charges and case numbers. Discipline paid off and the hearings ran smoothly. Not for this assignment. The kindly court clerk had sent the findings that I buried somewhere in the Gmail ether. This guy was not ready.

When I do have materials at hand, I mine them for terms. My complacency didn’t cause a hearing to go off the rails, but my mind raced to pull words from the ShakleeDataBase (my brain). An unexpected ten minute interchange ensued between the magistrate and defense counsel about changes to a parenting rights’ agreement. Darn! Forgot to ask to see the agreement beforehand. A quick read would have made that rendering easier. These terms surfaced during testimony. A shout out to Linguee is in order.

Allocate: v. Distribute (resources or duties) for a particular purpose 

The judge granted child custody to the maternal grandmother.

Conceder; El juez concedió la guarda y custodia definitiva al demandado el derecho de visitar y convivir con la niña.

Complaint n. the first document filed with the court (actually with the County Clerk or Clerk of the Court) by a person or entity claiming legal rights against another. The party filing the complaint is usually called the plaintiff and the party against whom the complaint is filed is called the defendant. The paternal uncle filed a complaint in the Juvenile Court of Segovia. Queja: El tío paterno sometío una queja en el Tribunal de Menores de Segovia.

Consideration Take into account This situation has to be taken into consideration in the definition of the new rules for the banana import regime. Tener en cuenta: Forzosamente hay que tener en cuenta esa situación en la formulación de las nuevas normas para el régimen de importación de plátanos.

Continuance n. A postponement of a date of a trial, hearing or other court appearance to a later fixed date by order of the court, or upon a stipulation (legal agreement) by the attorneys and approved by the court or (where local rules permit) by the clerk of the court. The court finds the sudden death of a family member to be good cause for a continuance. Aplazamiento: Si una solicitud de aplazamiento se hace en el transcurso de una audiencia …

Waive v. To voluntarily give up something, including not enforcing a term of a contract (such as insisting on payment on an exact date), or knowingly giving up a legal right such as a speedy trial, a jury trial or a hearing on extradition. Certain representatives residing in Paris waive their right to the subsistence allowance. Renunciar a: Algunos representantes que residen en Paris renuncian a las dietas que  tienen derecho.


Years ago my colleague Isabel Framer encouraged us to ask for case materials beforehand in order to interpret smoothly. She suggested the following:

Case materials in order to work efficiently and accurately

  • Crash report
  • Documents from investigative agencies
  • Indictment, plea, plea agreement
  • Motions, response to motions
  • Name, phone numbers of attorneys involved in the case
  • Transcriptions of tape recordings
  • Medical records
  • Names of expert witnesses and their accompanying reports
  • Complaint affidavit of the arresting officer

In order to not get caught off guard again I prepared for the next Friday. West’s law dictionary helped. The docket and case file information at the court’s website offered docket and case file information. I hadn’t heard the charge “Ohio Revised Code 4509.101 Operating a motor vehicle without proof of financial responsibility/FRA suspension” in months. That term had collected dust in the ShakleeDataBase. I discovered the “Ohio Driver’s Handbook/Compedio (typo) De Las Leyes De Ohio Vehículos Motorizados and “responsabilidad financiera”. Bam! Now the term makes sense. That led to infracción por no  presentar prueba de responsabilidad financiera.


Term list at hand. Listen interpreting equipment charged and I’ll arrive fifteen minutes early to review case file. What preparation strategies can you share? Please comment below.

Published by The Interpreter Fellow

I am an Ohio State Certified Court Interpreter and Certified Healthcare Interpreter in Spanish. MA Translation from The Institute for Applied Linguistics at Kent State University. Currently I serve Akron Children's Hospital Pediatrics and local courts.

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