Interpreting Testimony Via Video-Conferencing

Italian Legal Interpreter Services for Remote Witness Testimony

We’ve blogged about the use of legal translators and interpreters in remote depositions. In the case below, a Nevada trial court denied an Italian citizen the ability to testify from Italy via video conference. The Nevada Supreme Court held that the trial court’s decision was erroneous.

Italian Businessman Loses $ Million While Gambling in Las Vegas

In Labarbera v. Wynn Las Vegas, the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas (Plaintiff) sued an Italian businessman (Defendant) for breach of contract stemming from unpaid gambling debts. The Defendant was an Italian citizen who did not speak any English and had a serious gambling addiction. While in the United States on business, the Defendant visited Las Vegas and stayed at the Wynn Hotel, having been sought out by an Italian-speaking casino host. During his time at the Wynn, the Defendant lost over $1 million dollars while gambling. The Plaintiff subsequently provided the Defendant with $1,070,000 in gambling credit in the form of “casino markers,” $1 million of which went unpaid.

Plaintiff Files Criminal Complaint and Sues for Breach of Contract

Thereafter, the Plaintiff filed a complaint with the district attorney’s office alleging that the defendant had passed bad checks in violation of state law. Thereafter, a bench warrant was issued for the defendant’s arrest. The Plaintiff also filed a civil case against the Defendant for breach of contract. Prior to trial, the Plaintiff filed motions in limine arguing that evidence of the Defendant’s intoxication, gambling addition, and alleged forgery should be excluded. The court granted the motion to exclude evidence of the Defendant’s intoxication and addiction but allowed the Defendant to argue that the casino markers were invalid forgeries.

Italian-Speaking Defendant Seeks to Testify From Italy Via Video Conference

The Defendant then filed a motion for permission to testify at trial via video conference through an Italian interpreter. The Defendant argued that such an accommodation was necessary because he would be arrested if he went back to Las Vegas to testify given the bench warrant out for his arrest. However, the trial court denied the Defendant’s request and the matter proceeded to trial in his absence. The jury returned a verdict against the Italian businessman in excess of $2 million dollars, which he appealed.

Nevada Supreme Court Reverses Trial Court’s Decision to Deny Videoconference

On appeal, the Italian-speaking Defendant argued that the trial court erred by refusing to let him testify via video conference. The Defendant also disputed the court’s exclusion of evidence he was intoxicated when he entered into the casino contract. In response, the Plaintiff argued that, according to Nevada law, testifying via video was not permitted absent some sort of “special circumstances,” which the defendant had failed to establish.

The Nevada Supreme Court held that the trial court had abused its discretion in refusing to allow the defendant to testify via video. The court found that the defendant had established “good cause” because he demonstrated convenience and cost savings. The court also rejected the plaintiff’s arguments that it would be prejudiced by having the defendant testify via video because the plaintiff had taken the defendant’s deposition in Italy and had in fact used some of that deposition testimony during the trial. The court also held that the trial court had improperly denied the defendant’s request to testify remotely without explanation. The court further held that the trial court had abused its discretion in excluding evidence of defendant’s intoxication.

The case is Mario Labarbera v. Wynn Las Vegas, LLC, decided by the Supreme Court of the State of Nevada on July 19, 2018.

Certified deposition translators and interpreters at All Language Alliance, Inc. are available to interpret remote witness testimony of non-English-speaking witnesses in any foreign language, including Italian, Cantonese, Bengali, Armenian, Spanish, Korean, during telephonic depos and videoconferencing. Learn more here.

***This legal blog article should not be construed as legal advice. You should always consult an attorney regarding your specific legal needs.***

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