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Rarer languages call for special courtroom help from interpreters
Cornelio Lazarescue listens to the verdict through an interpreter Nov. 16 in Hall County Superior Court during the trial of Geoffrey Mack. - photo by Erin O. Smith

On the courtroom’s back pew, Cornelio Lazarescue sat through a three-day trial last week with a pair of jet-black headphones. Next to him was an interpreter, specially requested to help translate the proceedings into Romanian for Lazarescue.

Melva Mendoza in the Hall County courthouse’s interpretive services is tasked with making the language connection.

The court often works with Professional Linguistics, an agency providing services for more than 140 languages, according to its website.

“They have a wide variety of the not-so-common languages, people that they contract with through that agency,” Mendoza said.

Lazarescue used the interpreter while seated in the courtroom and testifying at the trial of Geoffrey Mack, who was accused of shooting the Romanian man in his jaw and ankle.

Mack was acquitted on the charges of aggravated battery, aggravated assault and false imprisonment, claiming Lazarescue kept coming toward him. The Buford man was convicted of reckless conduct, and received a sentence of 12 months probation and 10 days in jail by 48-hour increments.

Lazarescue was accused of stalking Mack’s wife Cheryl from a nearby park.

“This trial had been specially set for a particular date, which is what we try to do for these types of situations,” Mendoza said.

Hall County’s most frequently requested languages include German, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, sign language, Spanish and Vietnamese, according to its website.

Mendoza said the agency fee in this case was $75 per hour. The fee can differ depending on the language.

The trial began Nov. 14 with jury selection and ended Nov. 16. Mendoza said the invoice had not been received this week and that the costs would be separated.

“The District Attorney’s Office would be responsible for a portion of it, and then the court would be responsible for the actual interpreting time for in-court interpreting for him,” Mendoza said.