Interpreters mediate language between parties and the judicial system so as to produce legal equivalency or a linguistically true and legally appropriate interpretation of statements spoken or read in the interpreting session. Within the Florida State Courts System, interpreters avail themselves of the Florida Rules for Certification and Regulation of Spoken Language Court Interpreters, as a guiding document, particularly Part III detailing the Code of Professional Conduct.
Mediation is an informal process for the resolution of conflict with its roots in democracy. Individuals conserve the right to decide the important issues as they themselves identify them. By foregoing an authoritarian, formal process, non-adversarial conflict resolution assists the disputing parties in taking ownership of any mutually agreed-to outcomes. The mediator facilitates this communicative exchange through the use of professionally acquired skills. In our state, they are guided by the Florida Rules for Certified & Court-Appointed Mediators, a comprehensive document that delineates scope, strategies, and ethics among other topics.
Guided by their respective professional codes, interpreters and mediators both facilitate understanding and promote communication. However, there are particular challenges that arise whenever interpreters are involved in a mediation session. In highly emotional contexts, for example, mediators may lose some of the immediacy of communication with the parties while interpreters may find themselves unusually challenged in keeping the session from devolving into a back and forth exchange between them.
This presentation is designed to probe similar challenges that arise in interpreter-assisted mediations. We examine how each professions’ guiding documents can create obligations that can complement, sustain, or seemingly interfere with the professional responsibilities of the other players in the session. We will explore potential solutions to these challenges and what best practices can facilitate the communication process in such a way as to conserve the guiding principles of both fields.