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Preserve and strengthen criminal defendants’ Constitutional right to court-appointed interpreters

Dec 10, 2010 Preserve and strengthen criminal defendants’ Constitutional right to court-appointed interpreters

Last month, the Georgia Supreme Court confirmed criminal defendants’ Constitutional right to an interpreter, and underlined criminal defense lawyers’ obligation to assert that right. Ling v. Georgia, ___ Ga. ___ (Nov. 22, 2010).

Ling’s dissent talks about the defendant’s eight years in the United States and previous English conversations with her lawyer. However, the lawyer apparently had the occasional interpretaton help of others with Ms. Ling, and Ling is silent about the quality of that interpretation, apparently always by amateurs.

Perhaps one needs to study a second language to know how tough it is to go to court in a second language. I know that even with substantial proficiency in French for thirty-five years, and conversational Spanish for twenty-five years, I would be a fool to be without an interpreter in any court operating in any language other than English.  

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