Ruston: the foundational case for interpreting with deaf parties in Anglo-American courtrooms
Leahy, Anne M.
Though not the first legal matter to admit a sworn signed language interpreter, this precedent-setting case that codified early protocols of courtroom interpreting for deaf parties under common law in Great Britain and the United States was heard in the London Central Criminal Court in 1786. During a larceny trial, a woman endured such an adversarial voir dire process, that it cleared the procedural hurdles of that day to admit her deaf brother as a witness for the prosecution, and she was permitted to act as his interpreter. Supported by the sitting justice, her insightful answers to a belligerent defense counsel, and nuanced interpreting of witness testimony elevated the citation into the Anglo-American legal lexicon as “Ruston’s Case.” Named as such for the deaf witness and not the defendant, it has influenced centuries of legal signed language interpreting case law and practice.
The Interpreters' Newsletter
EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Anne M. Leahy, "Ruston: the foundational case for interpreting with deaf parties in Anglo-American courtrooms", in: The Interpreters' Newsletter n. 21 (2016), Trieste, EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2016, pp. 79-93