Section 12-21-131

Interpreters for persons defective in speech and/or hearing - When furnished; qualifications; notice of need for interpreter; proof of deafness; requests to be channeled through certain organizations; listing of qualified interpreters; oath of interpreter; confidentiality; fee for services.

(a) "Deaf person" means any person either totally deaf, or who has defective hearing, or who has both defective hearing and speech.

(b) For the purpose of this section, the term "qualified interpreter" means an interpreter certified by the National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Alabama Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, or, in the event an interpreter so certified is not available, an interpreter whose qualifications are otherwise determined. Efforts to obtain the services of a qualified interpreter certified with a legal skills certificate or a comprehensive skills certificate will be made prior to accepting services of an interpreter with lesser certification. No "qualified interpreter" shall be appointed unless the appointing authority and the deaf person make a preliminary determination that the interpreter is able to readily communicate with the deaf person and is able to accurately interpret the statements of the deaf person and interpret the proceedings in which a deaf person may be involved.

(c) In any case in law or equity before any court or the grand jury, wherein any deaf person is a party to such action, either as a complainant, defendant, or witness, the court shall appoint a qualified interpreter to interpret the proceedings to the deaf person and interpret his testimony or statements and to assist in preparation with counsel.

(d) In any proceeding before any department, board, commission, agency, or licensing authority of the state, in any political subdivision or municipality, wherein any deaf person is a principal party of interest, either as a complainant, respondent, plaintiff, defendant, or witness such department, board, commission, agency, licensing authority or municipality shall appoint a qualified interpreter to interpret the proceedings to the deaf person and to interpret his testimony or statements.

(e) In the event a person who is deaf is arrested and taken into custody for any alleged violation of a criminal law of this state, the arresting officer and his superiors shall procure a qualified interpreter in order to properly interrogate such deaf person and to interpret such person's statements. No statement taken from such deaf person before an interpreter is present may be admissible in court.

(f) Every deaf person whose appearance before a proceeding entitles him to an interpreter should notify the appointing authority of his need prior to any appearance and should request at such time the services of an interpreter; provided that where a deaf person reasonably expects the need for an interpreter to be for a period greater than a single day he should notify the appointing authority and such notification shall be sufficient for the duration of his participation in the proceedings.

(g) An appointing authority may require a person requesting the appointment of an interpreter to furnish reasonable proof of his deafness when the appointing authority has reason to believe that the person is not deaf.

(h) It shall be the responsibility of the appointing authority to channel requests for qualified interpreters through (1) The Alabama Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf; (2) Alabama Association of the Deaf; or, in the alternative, (3) any community resource wherein the appointing authority or the deaf person is knowledgeable that such qualified interpreters can be found. It shall be the responsibility of the Alabama Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf to compile and update annually a listing of qualified interpreters approved by the Alabama Association for the Deaf and to make this listing available to authorities in possible need of interpreter service as provided in this section.

(i) Before a qualified interpreter will participate in any proceedings subsequent to an appointment under the provisions of this section, such interpreter shall make an oath or affirmation that such interpreter will make a true interpretation in an understandable manner to the deaf person for whom he is appointed and that such interpreter will interpret the statements of the deaf person desiring that statements be made, in the English language to the best of such interpreter's skill and judgment. The appointing authority shall provide recess periods as necessary for the interpreter when the interpreter so indicates. Any and all information that the interpreter gathers from the deaf person pertaining to any proceeding then pending shall at all times remain confidential and privileged, or on an equal basis with the attorney-client privilege, unless such deaf person desires that such information be communicated to other persons.

(j) An interpreter appointed under the provisions of this section shall be entitled to a reasonable fee for such services. The fee shall be in accordance with standards established by the Alabama Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, in addition to actual expenses for travel and transportation. When the interpreter is appointed by a court, the fee and expenses shall be paid out of the State General Fund from "Court Costs Not Otherwise Provided." When the interpreter is otherwise appointed, the fee shall be paid out of funds available to the appointing authority.

(Acts 1965, No. 799, p. 1499, §1; Acts 1988, No. 88-538, p. 835.)