SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (WDTN) — The court system in Clark County is dealing with a growing issue. Officials say the county needs more interpreters as the system is dealing with more people of Haitian descent.
This past week, Hermanio Joseph, the man accused of causing a deadly school bus crash in August appeared in court. His hearing was delayed because of the lack of a Haitian-Creole interpreter.
Court officials tell 2 NEWS judges set their own schedules and coordinate with translators for cases, which will require an interpreter. Depending on the case, it can be either in person, on a phone call or through Zoom.
According to officials, charging documents do not note a defendants proficiency of English.
If a defendant appears in court and needs an interpreter and one is not available, the judge is able to dial a hotline through the Ohio Supreme Court to be connected to a certified translator. The hearing must be rescheduled if a translator of a specific language is unavailable or technical difficulties occur.
The timeline to delay any case could be anywhere from a day to weeks later.
Clark County Clerk of Courts Melissa Tuttle says the delays don’t interfere with the courts commitments to give defendants fair and speedy trials.
“You know, what the criminal justice system is designed for is giving justice for the victims,” Tuttle said. “And by making sure that the defendant has a fair trial and the fair proceeding. So I know that sometimes justice isn’t as fast as what people want, but making sure that it’s done right so that it doesn’t get appealed is always another issue that people need to have a perspective of.”
Tuttle says the language barrier is also an issue for other legal proceedings, such as licensing for divorce and marriage.
For an unofficial proceeding, an individual can bring their own interpreter along with them.