Cite as Rawepi v. Billimon,
2 FSM Intrm. 240 (Truk 1986)

[2 FSM Intrm. 240]




CIVIL NO. 86-1028


Before Richard H. Benson
Associate Justice
September 11, 1986

     For the Plaintiff:          Jeanne Rayphand, Esq.
                                          P.O. Box D
                                          Moen, Truk 96942

     For the Defendants:   Pro se

*        *        *        *

     Where plaintiff's complaint is written in English and the defendant requests a written translation into a local Micronesian language, and where it appears that this is the only language the defendant can speak or read, the trial judge may order that the court provide a written translation and that the expense of providing the translation shall be taxed as a cost to the party not prevailing in the action. Rawepi v. Billimon, 2 FSM Intrm. 240, 241  (Truk 1986).

*        *        *        *

RICHARD H. BENSON, Associate Justice,
     This matter came before the court on the application of the defendant Junior Bossy for a written translation of pleadings served upon him.

[2 FSM Intrm.241]

     The application is granted, and the costs of producing the translation will be taxed to the party not prevailing.

     The issue before the court is whether the plaintiff or the court is obliged to furnish a written translations

     The defendant is a citizen of the Federated States of Micronesia.  He was born in Truk, resides in Truk now, and his mother tongue is Trukese.  The summons and complaint, interrogatories, and a request for the production of documents were served concurrently.  After service the defendant promptly requested the attorney for the plaintiff to provide a written translation of the documents.  The plaintiff's attorney refused, but did give an oral translation.  The defendant then made the request for a written translation of the court.  The defendant declined the offer of the court to provide an oral translation.

     The defendant has made no effort to obtain a translation using his own resources.  He has stated that after he has the translation he will decide whether to obtain counsel or not.

     This appears to be the first time this matter has come before the  court.  The only authority apparent to the court is this portion of Rule 4(d)(1) of the Rules of Civil Procedure for this court:  "Reasonable attempts shall also be made by the person serving the summons and complaint to assure that the person served understands the meaning of the summons and
complaint."  The comment to this passage states:

     Comment:  Rule 4 follows Federal Rule 4, but also draws on the Trust Territory rule 4(f) notion that a reasonable attempt should be made to supplement the mere writing with additional explanation.  This is because of  the multiplicity of languages in Micronesia and the greater likelihood here than in the United States that one served with a summons and complaint will be unable to read the words of the document.
     In addition to the obligations of the one who served the defendant, the purpose of the rule in this case has been carried out by the attorney for the plaintiff and by the offer of the court.  It is not appropriate to impose a greater obligation upon the plaintiff (which in some cases might impede access to the court by plaintiffs), or to impose a further burden upon the resources of the court by requiring written translations.  At the same time suitable accommodation should be made to one whose mother tongue (and apparently the only one he speaks) is the language of the state in which the case is filed.  These competing interests can be best resolved by providing the translation, and taxing the costs of its preparation.

     It is therefore ordered:

     1.  That a written translation shall be obtained by the court and furnished to the defendant,

[2 FSM Intrm. 243]

     2.  That the costs thereof shall be taxed to the party not prevailing in this action,

     3.  That the time for answering the complaint (20 days), the time for answering the interrogatories (45 days), and the time allowed for the production of documents (45 days) shall begin to run from the date of the service by the court of the written translation upon the defendant, and

     4.  That the translations of the documents and this order shall be served upon the defendant by Mr. Kerio Walliby the State Justice Ombudsman.