TO: Joint Procedure Committee
FROM: Mike Hagburg
DATE: January 16, 2013
RE: Rule 43, N.D.R.Civ.P., Evidence; Rule 28, N.D.R.Crim.P., Interpreters; Rule 6.10, N.D.R.Ct., Courtroom Oaths
During the committee's discussion of N.D.R.Ev 604 (Interpreters) at the April and September meetings, the issue of the state's interpreter statutes was brought up. By the end of the September discussion, it was the consensus of the committee that N.D.C.C. §§ 31-01-11 and 31-01-12 were outmoded and should be superseded.
Examination of N.D.R.Crim.P. 28 and N.D.R.Ct. 6.10 show that some steps have already been taken to supersede these statutes. Rule 28 supersedes § 31-01-12, the fee statute, "for criminal process only." Rule 6.10 supersedes the part of § 31-01-11 that refers to the oath or affirmation of an interpreter. The drafters of N.D.R.Civ.P. 43, on the other hand, decided not to include the federal language on interpreters in the rule because it was "not needed in these rules, as it is adequately covered in N.D.C.C. § 31-01-11."
Proposed amendments to Rule 43, Rule 28 and Rule 6.10 are attached. Under the proposed amendments, N.D.C.C. §§ 31-01-11 and 31-01-12 would be wholly superseded.
The main textual change proposed to the rules would be adding a section on interpreters, based on the federal language, to Rule 43. The proposal would also amend the explanatory notes of Rules 28 and 6.10 to update cross references and reflect the superseding of §§ 31-01-11 and 31-01-12. N.D.Sup.Ct.Admin.R. 50, a copy of which is attached, provides guidance on interpreter qualifications and requirements and it would also be cross-referenced as part of the proposed rule amendments.
The first part of N.D.C.C. § 31-01-11, which has not been superseded before, provides:
When a witness does not understand the English language or speak the English language, or is deaf or unable to talk, an interpreter must be sworn to interpret for the witness. Any person who is a qualified interpreter may be subpoenaed by any court or judge to appear before such court or judge to act as an interpreter in any action or proceeding. The subpoena must be served and returned in like manner as a subpoena for a witness. Any person so subpoenaed who fails to attend at the time and place named in the subpoena is guilty of contempt.
The committee may wish to discuss whether it would be useful to include any of this
language in the proposed rule amendments or whether Rules 43, 28 and 6.10 as amended,
along with Admin. Rule 50, adequately cover the field.