Community Chat – Language Interpreting in Remote Hearings – June 19

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This community chat will discuss how remote interpreting can be done by hearing from Hal Sillers who has been the go-to Spanish interpreter in the 8th Judicial District which has been using remote interpreting for years because of its expansive geography. It is said that necessity is the mother of invention, and Polly Ryan has been helping implement remote interpreting around the state as judicial districts have moved to remote hearings. This community chat will discuss best practices for using interpreters in general and when they are working remotely in particular. There will also be discussion about how private interpreters may be accessed for professionals who want to use interpreters for their private meetings with clients or patients.

Hal Sillers is the Minnesota 8th Judicial District staff court interpreter. He is certified as a court interpreter by the Minnesota Supreme Court, as well as by the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts.  As the 8ThDistrict staff interpreter since 2003, Hal has provided the majority of the Spanish court interpretation required by the District. In 2006, he began providing district wide remote simultaneous court interpretation by telephone and beginning in 2011 by Distance Court Interpreting (DCI) technology. Since 2017, he has been involved in the development, testing and provision of Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) using DCI technology in combination with Telepresence. During the Covid-19 Pandemic, he has provided remote interpretation in consecutive mode for various courts across the state via Virtual Meeting Room (VMR), phone-bridge, conference call and Zoom.

Hal served as the scheduler for court interpreters of all languages required in the 8th District from 2003 to 2017. He was a trainer of interpreters for the Minnesota Court Interpreter Program for six years, and he was a rater for the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts Oral Spanish Exam during four exam cycles.  Hal and his wife, Leonor, who is also a MN Certified Court Interpreter, reside near Moorhead, MN.

Polly Ryan is the Coordinator of the Court Interpreter Program at the Minnesota State Court Administrator’s Office, Court Services Division. Her duties include oversight of the Judicial Branch’s Statewide Language Access Plan, maintaining the court interpreter training and roster requirements, the consolidated interpreter scheduling unit, translation of court forms and all policies and procedures related to language access. She is currently leading the efforts to provide qualified interpreters in court proceedings using remote technologies.

Prior to joining the Branch in 2011, Polly worked for 10 years for the Florida State Courts in various positions in Court Administration. In Florida’s 1st Judicial Circuit she served as Deputy Court Administrator and managed juvenile court services including the juvenile drug courts and juvenile mental health court in Pensacola. She then worked for the Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee in the Office of Court Improvement.

Monica Dooner Lindgren is an attorney in St. Paul, Minnesota. She has worked in the areas of Family Law, Domestic Violence and Crime Victim Rights, providing legal representation to immigrants in contested cases for over 10 years. Recently, she has expanded her practice to Immigration Law. The majority of her experience has been in the poverty law setting with Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services, Inc. She has formed strong partnerships with Latin@ organizations, to be able to provide high quality bilingual and bicultural representation. Prior to practicing law, Monica worked in the area of immigrant constituent services and as a political organizer for various Minnesota candidates. Monica is currently the Vice President of the Ramsey County Bar Association. She also works tirelessly in the area of inter-country adoption to improve processes and practices on a local and national level. In her spare time, Monica enjoys spending time with her family and traveling.