It is well established that a foreign language recording is an admissible form of evidence. It is also well established that an English translation/ interpretation transcript of the foreign language recording may be introduced as substantive evidence in order to aid the jury in understanding the recording. However, a relatively recent development in the law is whether or not an English translation/ interpretation transcript of a foreign language recording can be admitted even when the foreign language recording is not.
The general consensus is an English language translation/ interpretation transcript of a foreign language conversation can be admitted as evidence even when the underlying foreign language recording is neither admitted nor played.
The reason for this ruling is that it is within the trial court’s sole discretion to decide what evidence will be admitted. This discretion is grounded on a foundation of relevancy.
When a Court determines listening to a recording of a foreign language conversation will do nothing to aid the jury in its decision making and an accurate English translation/ interpretation transcript of the conversation has been made, then the English-language transcript may be admitted as evidence by itself.
See U.S. v. Valencia, 957 F.2d 1189 (C.A. 5 (Tex.), 1992)
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