Many times I have personally had clients with fairly good ability to understand Swedish, but they have insisted on having an interpreter in court. The fact is, that they do not need an interpreter to under-stand what is spoken. The truth is that they with the assistance of an interpreter will have twice as much time to consider the answer.
Once in the Stockholm district court, I remember that we had an interpreter in the English language. His abilities to interpret was so weak that the judge after about fifteen minutes after beginning of the session called out and said: "This is impossible, you are not capable to translate more than Good morning. You can go." The court took about fifteen minutes recess and then a clerk from the court came, was sworn in and started to interpret. It is not easy for an interpreter to
do his or her work in court if the source language is English. Almost everyone in Sweden speaks Swedish and can follow what said between the interpreter and the person who is the target for this service. Something like this had never before or after happened to me.
As I was an assistant judge in Haparanda, I got numerous occasions to interpret in court. I interpreted from English, German and Finnish to Swedish. I remember one time, as I had to interpret for a German Sailor. I do not remember why he was in court, but suddenly he said something quite amusing and I could not help myself smiling a little. The sailor looked angry and said quite loud: "Sie haben gut lachen." Roughly translated, It is easy for you to laugh. He was right, it is not for me to smile in a situation like that.
There are many different kinds of interpreters in the court. Some are efficient, capable of interpreting simultaneously; others are quite useless, asking over and over again about the words to translate. Of course, there are many very good interpreters between these two categories also.
I have had many cases in court, where the native language of the defendant has been Finnish. As I speak Finnish myself, the interpreters had trusted me to object if they should say something wrong. As one interpreter once said to me: "I feel so confident when you are in court because I know that you would react if I tell lies".
All of should understand that the interpreters do a fabulous job, sitting in court all day and when they come home in the evening, they are quite empty in the mind.
It is a work where you have to be enormously concentrated and not for a minute let your thoughts wander elsewhere.
We must also keep in mind that the interpreters have an enormous power because they are the only ones, to know about the translation on both sides of the barriers in the court.