Committee will study the use of interpreters, translators in courts

The South Dakota Supreme Court has appointed a committee to study the use of interpreters and translators in the South Dakota court system.  The purpose of the committee will be to examine how interpreters are used in the South Dakota court system and to provide a report and make recommendations to ensure the meaningful access to the judiciary by those diverse persons who appear in and utilize our courts. 

South Dakota's judicial system is based on the guiding principle that all persons are entitled to equal access to the courts.  The committee's study will include an examination of the appointment process, regulation, qualification, training, and ethical standards for court interpretation and translation, and provide any necessary recommendations for improvement in those areas.

Chief Justice David Gilbertson noted that "we are a state which since its beginnings has been settled by immigrants. We have a history of welcoming those who come here and want them to become enthusiastic residents of South Dakota. A similar welcome is due those who visit our state. Assisting them in contacts with our judicial system through access to a language they understand is crucial to our mission of equal justice for all. I am delighted that persons of this level of expertise in our legal system are willing to undertake this most important task and advise the Supreme Court of their recommendations."

This committee will be chaired by the Honorable Bradley Zell. Judge Zell is a circuit judge from the Second Judicial Circuit in Sioux Falls. The committee membership will consist of representatives from the diverse groups that directly participate in the operation of the courts. Those persons that have agreed to serve on this committee are:

• Honorable Jon Erickson, circuit judge, Huron.
• Honorable Shawn Pahlke, magistrate judge, Rapid City.
• Karl Thoennes, circuit administrator, Sioux Falls.
• Lisa Carlson, court reporter, Sioux Falls.
• Judd Thompson, chief court services officer, Rapid City.
• Marty Jackley, attorney general, Pierre.
• Aaron McGowan, Minnehaha County states attorney, Sioux Falls.
• Kerry M. Cameron, Roberts County states attorney, Sisseton.
• Ken Tschetter, defense attorney, Sioux Falls.
• Phil Peterson, defense attorney, Beresford.
• Bob Wilcox, executive director, Association of County Commissioners, Pierre.
• Rosa Iverson, interpreter, Pierre.
• Lisa Fowler, interpreter, Sioux Falls.
• Greg Sattizahn, legal counsel, Unified Judicial System, Pierre.

All further information will be handled through the State Court Administrator's Office.  Contact Legal Counsel Greg Sattizahn at 605-773-3474.

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