Rule 604 Interpreters. An interpreter is subject to the provisions of these rules relating to qualification as an expert and the administration of an oath or affirmation that the interpreter will make a true translation. [L 1980, c 164, pt of §1; gen ch 1985]
RULE 604 COMMENTARY
This rule is identical with Fed. R. Evid. 604. In Hawaii, circuit and district court judges are empowered to appoint interpreters by Hawaii Rev. Stat. §606-9 (1976). In addition, HRCP 43(f) and HRCrP 28(b) authorize the courts to appoint and to determine the compensation for interpreters.
Under this rule, an interpreter is regarded as a witness for purposes of the oath requirement of Rule 603 supra, and as an expert, consistent with provisions of Rule 702 infra, for the purpose of determining his qualifications to interpret or to translate in the matter at issue. Under Hawaii law, preliminary determination of his qualifications is a matter within the discretion of the court, John Ii Estate v. Judd, 13 H. 319 (1901). Hawaii law also holds that opportunity for a thorough cross-examination to test the qualifications of witnesses offered as expert translators is essential, McCandless v. Water Co., 35 H. 314, 320 (1940).
A line of Hawaii Supreme Court decisions establishes that the Hawaiian language may be judicially noticed by the court, see Territory v. Bishop Trust Co., 41 H. 358, 367 (1956); McCandless v. Water Co., 35 H. 314, 321-22 (1940); commentary to Rule 201 supra. "In this jurisdiction the Hawaiian language is not to be regarded as a foreign language, but as one of which the courts and judges must take judicial notice.... [T]he trial judge was at liberty to use his own knowledge of the Hawaiian language and also to call to his assistance the official interpreters of the court and, if it was deemed advisable, other experts." 35 H. at 321.