The translator as researcher – Translating a CORI

An interesting job came, literally, to my door yesterday. It was to translate a “CORI” report for a certain individual from English to Hebrew. I don’t do English to Hebrew as a rule;  I don’t feel my Hebrew is good enough to qualify me to translate into that language.

However, my neighbor had apparently approached various lawyers / translators / individuals, who looked at the report and couldn’t even begin to decode it. So she came to me as a last resort, having remembered that I used to have an “English Teacher” sign up on my front gate. I speak English, I speak Hebrew: I must be a translator! Right? I wasn’t happy taking the job, but she seemed rather desperate, so I gave in, saying that if I thought I couldn’t do it, I would call her and let her know.

“CORI” stands for “Criminal Offender Record Information.” The one I was to translate had about 11 entries, each one looking something like this (the text here is from an online sample):

 “DT: 1/1/2009 RAN CRT: QUINCY DISTRICT (56) DKT#: 0956CR0001 OFFENSE: ASSAULT AND BATTERY DISPOSITION: C 2/1/09 DF D/R 3/1/09 C 4/1/09 G PROB 3/31/10 VWF REST VN 5/1/09 6/1/09 VOP G SS 6/1/11 TERM STATUS: C “

I photocopied the document (which also included two signed documents: one from the Department of Criminal Justice records keeper and another from the notary that verified the information as original and accurate), and got busy.

Luckily, with the internet at one’s fingertips, the undertaking wasn’t impossible.

By searching the site of the government of the American state involved, I actually found a link to “How to Read a CORI” report,” with a sample report and a list of disposition codes used in an arraignment report. Then, I opened the wonderful Mako-Morfix Hebrew/English dictionary. Using that, I managed to find appropriate translations for many of the English terms.

The job was rather painstaking, especially remembering that a date such as 2/5/02 in English means February 5, 2002, whereas in Hebrew it would mean May 2nd. To make sure that there would be no misunderstandings, I used text to indicate the month in every case.

Another problem was the fact that some acronyms meant different things depending on where they appeared in the report. “C” within the report means “continued” (the trial is scheduled to be continued at a later date) and “CC” means “court costs paid.” However, “C” in the status section means “case closed.” Very confusing.

There were two terms which proved problematic since they did not show up in the list of disposition codes: CSW and D/R.  I tried sending an email to any government address that seemed appropriate, asking them to tell me what it means, but  I have not yet received any response. More googling finally did reveal the answers: “CSW” means “community service work,” and “D/R” means “default removed.”

Because of the complication involved, I ended up doing it a bit differently, leaving in the English codes, and putting their meaning in parentheses. Thus one of the entries ended up looking like this (I have removed the year, to keep the record somewhat anonymous):

האשמה: תאריך האשמה: 02 למאי שנה   תחנת משטרה: TAU        בית דין: מחוז טאונטן  מספר תיק בית המשפט:          POSS D 0231CR1371C CSA    עבירה: Poss class d cont sub   אחזקת חומר מבוקר קלאס ‘ד’  – מריחואנה      מצב: C (המשך) 9-מאי-שנה   (JT) (הופיע לפני חבר משבעים) 25-יוני-שנה   PTP (קיבל תקופת מבחן לפני משפט) 24-דצמבר-שנה   C (נמשך) 11-פברואר-שנה   DISM (שוחרר)    סטאטוס: –case closed)  C)  תיק נסגר WPD: ללא תחנת משטרה

As a final touch, I typed up a table of the codes with their English and Hebrew explanations, and added some links.

I think my client got his money’s worth.