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Dec. 2, 2003
Supreme Court Creates New Interpreter Services Program

In recognition of the growing and increasingly diverse non-English speaking population in Ohio, the Supreme Court of Ohio has created a new interpreter services position to advise local courts on the appropriate and effective use of court interpreters.

Bruno Romero, a native of Mexico who spent five years in New York as a court interpreter, will start as interpreter services program manager on Dec. 15. Romero has worked in the field of dispute resolution for the last nine years, four of them as dispute resolution program manager at the Supreme Court. He has worked closely with state courts in Ohio.

"The population of Hispanics and other non-native speakers has grown rapidly during the last decade," said Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer. "The creation of this position will help local courts better communicate and serve these communities."

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Hispanic and Latino population in the United States increased by almost 60 percent between 1990 and 2000, while the overall U.S. population increased by just over 13 percent during the same time frame.

"Bruno Romero's background as an interpreter and his knowledge of our local courts make him an ideal candidate for this position," Moyer said.

Spanish is the predominant language in 60 percent to 70 percent of cases where an interpreter is needed in Ohio, Romero said. Interpreters are also often needed in cases where the defendant is from Somalia or Eastern Europe. In addition, the hearing-impaired often rely on interpreters fluent in American Sign Language.

Romero's first task will be to develop and implement a survey to be used to assess the different communication needs of each of Ohio's trial courts.

"This survey will allow local judges and administrators to pinpoint specific areas of need within their courts and will allow us to develop programs that are best tailored for individual courts," Romero said.

In June, Chief Justice Moyer announced that Ohio had joined the National Center for State Court's Consortium for State Court Interpreter Certification. The consortium works to develop standards of competence and provides testing materials that give individual states and jurisdictions the necessary tools and guidance to implement certification programs. The consortium also maintains a registry of approved interpreters and has adopted a code of professional conduct for interpreters to follow.

Romero plans to work with the consortium and a court-appointed commission to determine how courts should best screen for the most qualified applicants. The commission will issue guidelines regarding when a court should provide interpreter services and when it is best for those services to be provided by the parties in the case.

Contact: Chris Davey at 614.387.9250