The Second Department, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Wooten, determined the plaintiff’s daughter should not have been appointed an interpreter for plaintiff’s deposition in this medical malpractice action. The opinion lays out the criteria for when a relative could be allowed to act as an interpreter:
… [W]e hold that the appointment of an individual to serve as interpreter for a relative or to serve as interpreter in an action or proceeding in which the interpreter has personal knowledge of the relevant facts is only permissible under exceptional circumstances. In evaluating whether such circumstances are present, courts must consider the following: (1) whether sufficient information has been disclosed by the party in need of an interpreter to the court and to opposing parties so as to allow for a thorough search for a disinterested interpreter; (2) whether an exhaustive and meaningful search has been conducted for a disinterested interpreter; (3) whether the potential interpreter is the least interested individual available to serve as interpreter; and (4) whether the potential interpreter is capable of objectively translating the testimony verbatim, which may only be assessed after the court has conducted an inquiry of the potential interpreter. Unless the court is satisfied that each of these four elements has been satisfied, then the potential interpreter must not be permitted to serve as interpreter in view of the “danger that [the] witness’ [testimony] will be distorted through interpretation,” “either consciously or subconsciously” … .Zhiwen Yang v Harmon, 2023 NY Slip Op 00893, Second Dept 2-15-23
Practice Point: Here the plaintiff’s daughter should not have been appointed to serve as the interpreter for her mother’s deposition in this med mal case. The court laid out guidelines for the extraordinary circumstances in which a party’s relative may act as the interpreter.