UK judge uses Google Translate in pre-trial hearing

by |
A judge in the UK resorted to using Google Translate in court last 30 August because of a defendant’s limited grasp of English.

Jaroslaw Nowacki, appeared before Judge Euan Ambrose over a charge related to possessing a knife without good reason or lawful authority.

During the preparation for the trial, the judge found that Nowacki was originally from Poland and needed a translator. Ambrose decided to delay the hearing until 6 September so the court could find a translator, the Bath Chronicle reported.

Nowacki was also ordered to speak to a lawyer before he returns, as the suspect was not represented by a barrister at that time.  The report said Nowacki did not understand Ambrose, which is why the judge resorted to typing out his message on Google Translate.

“Whether Google Translate will accurately translate what I want to say I don’t know,” said the judge as quoted by the paper. Nowacki understood the message and the case was adjourned.

Police officers arrested Nowacki in 14 July after receiving reports of a man bearing a knife in Bath, England. The suspect was apprehended outside The Forum, a famous art deco cinema.

This wasn’t the first time Google’s app was used in a UK court. Last month, a quick-thinking barrister in the used Google Translate to help a defendant after the Mandarin speaker was not provided a translator during her appearance.

Joan Smith had to download Google Translate on her phone to help Xiu Ping Yang, who was being accused of food hygiene breaches at her Chinese restaurant in Eston, North Yorkshire, The Law Society Gazette reported. Smith is a direct-access barrister and she was at the Teesside Magistrates’ Court last week for an unrelated case.

“An interpreter wasn’t present and it became clear the defendant could not speak English. She didn’t understand what the judge or prosecutors were saying to her or what was happening,” she told the Gazette. “The clerk asked if anyone had any way of communicating with her. No one had phones on them and the council said they didn’t know of anyone who could interpret.”

Related stories:
Barrister uses Google translate after UK court mix-up
Chief justice adamant language barriers responsible for wrongful sentencing