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Taniguchi v. Kan Pacific Saipan, Ltd.

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: May 21, 2012
Case #: 10-1472
Alito, J., joined by Roberts, C.J., Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Kagan, JJ. Ginsburg, J., filed a dissenting opinion, which Breyer and Sotomayor, JJ., joined.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/10-1472.pdf

Civil Procedure: The Court Interpreters Act provides for compensation for oral translation but not document translation.

Petitioner was injured when he fell through a wooden deck on Respondent's property and filed a negligence claim. Respondent had several documents translated from Japanese to English in preparation for trial. The District Court ruled in Respondent's favor and awarded costs, including the cost of the document translation under 28 U.S.C § 1920, the Court Interpreters Act. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed. The Supreme Court granted certiorari to resolve a circuit split and reversed.

The Court focused on the common meaning of the act's language which allows for the "compensation of interpreters" and found that because an interpreter translates language that is "said" or "oral" that the ordinary meaning of "interpreter" does not include translation of written documents.