Coerced Confessions: The Discourse of Bilingual Police by Susan Berk-Seligson

By Susan Berk-Seligson

The booklet provides a discourse research of police interrogations related to U.S. Hispanic suspects accused of crimes. The learn is exclusive in that it concentrates on interrogations concerning suspects whose first language isn't English and cops who've a rudimentary wisdom of Spanish. the amount examines the pitfalls of utilizing law enforcement officials as interpreters at custodial interrogations.

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Extra resources for Coerced Confessions: The Discourse of Bilingual Police Interrogations (Language, Power and Social Process, Vol 25)

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Colin and Morris (1996:xii), for example, use a single term, ‘court interpreter’, to include interpreters who perform interpreting in the courts as well as those who work in other sorts of legal settings. Benmaman chooses to distinguish between these terms, explaining that court interpreting (synonymous with ‘judiciary interpreting’) “is but one form of legal interpreting which shares many common characteristics with other types of legal interpreting” (Benmaman 1997: 181). Benmaman (1997: 181) defines legal interpreting and court interpreting in the following way: Legal interpreting refers to all situations in the legal domain in which interpreter services are performed.

With these irrelevant cases winnowed out of the original pool, forty-nine cases remained for analysis. Evidence emerging from this corpus of appeals indicates that police officers routinely are used as interpreters in the earliest investigative phases of a criminal case as well as during interviews and interrogations carried out in the police station. They also are used as interpreters of audio- or video-recorded non-English language statements of suspects/detainees, which they convert into English for police stenographers, or else translate and type themselves.

State courts. As this review has shown, at issue is not merely the capability of the individual for interpreting through his or her possession of a highly sophisticated, cognitively complex set of skills, but also the confidence of both the legal system and the accused in this person’s willingness to uphold the ethical guidelines of the profession, particularly neutrality and lack of bias toward the people whose speech s/he is either interpreting or translating. It is especially with respect to the Miranda rights that such neutrality frequently has been questioned.

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