Mock Trials in Courtrooms to be Used in Legal Interpreting Training Program Delivered Nationally by UNC

Production crews filmed mock trials this month in Denver courtrooms as part of a legal interpreter training program that the University of Northern Colorado will distribute nationally.

The footage will be used in a presentation for participants of the Institute of Legal Interpreting Conference August 2014 in Denver. The presentation will offer the opportunity for participants to engage in the observation and analysis of team interpreting performance in the courtroom with a special focus on promoting the work of deaf-hearing interpreting teams.

"The final filmed work will also have a life beyond the conference in that it will be packaged and shared with other individuals and organizations who are involved in training and/or supervising the work of legal interpreters across the United States," said Leilani Johnson, director of UNC's Distance Opportunities for Interpreter Training (DO IT) Center.

The center is collaborating on the grant-funded project with professionals from around the United States, as well as the Colorado Commission of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Vocational Rehabilitation, and the Denver courts.

The mock trials present a civil case involving a child-custody dispute. The case involves four primary witnesses — each parent who is deaf, a psychologist, and a Guardian ad Litem. All of these witnesses will testify during direct and cross-examination. In addition, there is an out-of-court meeting between the Guardian ad Litem and a deaf child who is at the center of the custody dispute. These characters will be played by Denver community members from a script of an actual trial. The lawyers and judges are actual court personnel, and the interpreting teams are nationally recognized specialists coming in for the filming.

This project is one of several initiatives that is part of the Mid-America Regional interpreter Education Center funded by the Department of Education grant from the Rehabilitation Services Administration (2010: H160A100007), which is managed by Anna Witter-Merithew, the Assistant Director of the DO IT Center.

For more information about the center, visit