Marta McCoy translates Spanish for defendants, judges and lawyers in Hamilton County courts, providing an essential service to a growing population with diverse backgrounds. The petite Colombia native founded Accu Interpretation Translation Services and spends many hours each week — she’s logged 270 hours so far in 2008 — in courtrooms helping Spanish-speaking people understand English and vice versa.
“It’s like any other profession. You need training experience and knowledge of both languages,” she said in a thick but clear accent. The U.S. Census Bureau determined in 2005 that 2.5 percent of Hamilton County’s estimated 250,979 residents were Hispanic, compared with 4.5 percent of the state’s estimated population of 6.3 million. Since 2000, local court interpreters have logged 4,304 hours. Spanish tops the list with 3,700 hours. McCoy, Fishers, studied to be a translator in Colombia. She came to the United States in the late 1970s, and received computer science degrees from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and Ball State University. She became a U.S. citizen in the early 1980s.
“I’ve lived in the United States longer than I lived in Colombia,” she said.
McCoy volunteered her services for a short time and then made it a career.
She started working as an interpreter in Marion County courts in 1998 and in Hamilton County since 2001.Ollie Shierholz, the county’s court administrator, said McCoy is contracted for her services.”I have conferences with clients and attorneys, depositions, witness testimonies and anything to do with the judicial system,” she said. McCoy also translates from the witness stand during trials. She sits with a defendant or witness and translates to the judge or jury.”During a trial you have to prepare and know about the case. You can’t be caught off guard,” she said. “A jury trial is a lot of responsibility.”
Superior Court 3 Judge William Hughes said he’s known McCoy for several years, and she’s been in his court on many occasions.”She tries to brush me up on my Spanish and makes sure I use the correct tenses,” he said. Interpreters also have been used to translate American Sign Language, Russian, Portuguese and even Burmese, Shierholz said.