A Message to Other Attorneys About Serving Clients Who Are Deaf
It is alleged that Mr. Tirone failed to provide a qualified sign language interpreter during several meetings with his client.
When meeting with Ms. Rozanski in court, Mr. Tirone used the services of the court’s interpreter. The Court’s interpreter was provided by the Court at the Court’s expense.
At other times, in the absence of a qualified sign language interpreter, Mr. Tirone communicated with Ms. Rozanski by pen and paper, fax, lipreading, and by use of the National Relay Service when communicating by phone. It is alleged that use of these alternatives took longer than would have occurred had a qualified sign language interpreter been used, resulting in higher costs to Ms. Rozanski. In addition, Ms. Rozanski alleges that due to the absence of a qualified sign language interpreter, she did not understand all that was conveyed. Mr. Tirone asserts that he represented Ms. Rozanski adequately and professionally, and that he effectively communicated with her. He further asserts that he believes that Ms. Rozanski understood him at all times.
The Department of Justice has investigated the allegation that Mr. Tirone failed to provide Ms. Rozanski with effective communication and finds the allegation meritorious. Mr. Tirone acknowledges a single violation of the
Commentary to § 36.303
Signing and interpreting are not the same thing. Being able to sign does not mean that a person can process spoken communication into the proper signs, nor does it mean that he or she possesses the proper skills to observe someone signing and change their signed or fingerspelled communication into spoken words. The interpreter must be able to interpret both receptively and expressively.
Family members, friends, and close associates are not qualified interpreters in most cases, and generally should not be used to interpret. The commentary to the Title III regulation makes clear: