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Pulling together each of the different threads presented in the preceding Chapters, this Chapter proceeds to examine the extent to which the identified interpreter errors may actually undermine the right to a fair trial in criminal proceedings. For this discussion, the fair trial rights are broken down into three groups: those related to the production of evidence (such as the right to examine witnesses); those related to the understanding of evidence (such as the right to be present); and those generally unrelated to evidence (such as the right to appeal). Throughout the evaluation of these categories, the legal implications of interpreter error are examined by reference to international jurisprudence directly applicable to the issues, as well as by drawing analogies between cases in related areas of law. Given the findings from previous Chapters that a substantial variety of interpreter errors are not only inherent in the system, but also common and frequent occurrences, it is asserted that the impact of court interpreters on specific individual fair trial rights is quite significant indeed. Specifically, it is concluded that court interpreters, where they are tasked with interpreting for a foreign language witness, considerably impede the accurate production of evidence, which is a fundamental aspect of numerous fair trial rights. In addition, court interpreters are also found to appreciably undermine the ability of foreign language defendants to effectively participate in their proceedings, which is likewise a foundational part of the right to a fair trial. Those fair trial rights unrelated to evidence are also shown to be endangered. Ultimately, the Chapter concludes that, even where individual fair trial rights may not be infringed, the sheer volume of likely interpreter error in any given case put the overall fairness of interpreted criminal proceedings at risk.
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John Henry Dingfelder Stone
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