Colorado Certified Court Interpreters, Colorado Legal Translators and Demeanor Evidence in Courtrooms

We’ve blogged about Colorado medical interpreting services, Denver medical interpreters for doctors offices, hospitals and clinics, and Colorado deposition translators and certified courtroom translators and interpreters. In a jury trial, one significant piece of evidence that lends to the jury’s verdict is what is considered demeanor evidence. Whenever expert testimony regarding a witness’ credibility is missing, jurors are left to make their own judgment on an individual’s truthfulness – which is typically done based on a witnesses’ demeanor during testimony. Unfortunately, when a foreign language interpreter is used, this reliance on demeanor is lost as demeanor cannot be translated. Further, there is the risk that the jury will place the witnesses’ credibility question on the demeanor of the foreign language interpreter.

According to one study, there are three misconceptions about the role of demeanor:

  1. Sender Fallacy: the erroneous belief that an average deceptive speaker will give off certain cues to his deception in his physical mannerism.
  2. Observer Fallacy: the erroneous belief that observers tend to focus on the right cues when evaluating another person’s truthfulness.
  3. Accuracy Fallacy: the erroneous belief that observers can detect deception with a degree of reliability.

Demeanor of course becomes even more complicated when a witness is of a different race or culture, speaks a different language, and has a foreign language tattoo. Even when a court provides jury instructions on the limited role of demeanor evidence, inaccurate juror evaluations actually tend to increase. Thus, when a foreign language interpreter is involved, it is important to submit jury instructions not only outlining the role of the interpreter, but also specific instructions on such paralinguistic characteristics as the tone of voice of the witness and not the interpreter. If possible, expert testimony on paralinguistic cultural differences may also be useful.

Contact our certified legal translation company to obtain certified notarized translations of your medical, legal, financial, technical and personal documents in Denver, Colorado, and nationwide, and to retain court certified interpreters for your cross-cultural deposition or for your USCIS adjustment of status interview in Denver, CO.

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