Interpreted Testimony In The Third Person

At times we face the challenge of a deposition where an attorney is asking questions such as: “Ask him where his mother lives.” Other times, the interpreter is answering: “He says the traffic light was yellow.” These types of issues can be very challenging because it tempts us to put the questions or answers in colloquy.

Tell Chris to tell them: “Please don’t do that.” It makes the transcript look really bad. Generally the lawyers expect a simple flow of question, answer, question, answer. You should always do your duty of taking down the verbatim testimony and I do not believe in heavy editing or editorializing for the sake of making things look better, but it is much easier to read when there is a simple flow of Q, A, Q, A than when it is jumping between colloquy and question and answer unnecessarily. I’m not saying there’s never a time to put the interpreter in colloquy. If it’s something not in response to a question, then it makes better sense to use colloquy, but otherwise, if the testimony is flowing, let it flow and retain its Q&A format even if the questions and answers are poorly worded.

In general, you may also want to politely and professionally™ alert the parties present of how they make it look when they use a pronoun to describe what the witness is saying. It is a teachable moment, and if you present it in a way that is low pressure and honest, it may make them stop doing it all together.