February 25, 2020         
Guard your state-of-the-art Samsung Galaxy S20 phone with Gadget Guard Black Ice Flex screen protector   •   JA New York Partners Honored By Junior Achievement With A U.S. President's Volunteer Service Award   •   HR Green Assists City of Waterloo in transitioning declining properties into Teen Center   •   Civil Rights Leader Reverend Al Sharpton and Local Pastors Renew Call for Diversity in Delaware Courts at Wilmington Black Histo   •   Powerhouse ZURU Co-Founder Anna Mowbray Named 2020 Wonder Woman In Manufacturing; On A Mission To Change The Way Toys Are Made   •   Golisano Institute for Developmental Disability Nursing, Waterford Institute of Technology Partner to Advance Health Care Needs   •   Corporate Social Responsibility Related News Releases and Story Ideas for Reporters, Bloggers and Media Outlets   •   Baby Making After Valentine’s Day Means a Turkey Time Baby: Preparing for a Summer Bump & Thanksgiving Wobble   •   L’eggs® Announces Partnership with ‘Operation: Deploy Your Dress’   •   Five Star Senior Living President and CEO Katie Potter to Be Honored with Women of Distinction Award   •   Washington Prime Group Announces HomeGoods to Open at Mesa Mall   •   Hamilton Wingo, LLP Adds New Associate Damian N. Williams at Law Firm   •   TherapeuticsMD and Afaxys Enter Into Agreement to Expand Access to ANNOVERA® in the U.S. Public Health Sector   •   The Biggest Baby Shower Ever is Back in Los Angeles as Big City Moms Celebrates 15th Anniversary   •   Discover Recognized as a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality For Seventh Consecutive Year   •   ARC Makes Strong Debut on HRC’s 2020 Corporate Equality Index   •   Mattel Announces Ruth Handler Mentorship Program for Women in Toys Timed to Company’s 75th Anniversary   •   RespectAbility Report: Tenfold Decrease in Job Gains for People With Disabilities   •   Local Insurance Agency Creates "Insurance Quotes for Colorado" Charity Program   •   Gardenia Willoughby Joins Marca Global as Director of Account Services
Bookmark and Share

ACLU Wins Victory For Non-English Speakers

 ATLANTA – The Supreme Court of Georgia has ruled that defendants with limited English proficiency (LEP) have a constitutional right to court interpreters in criminal trials. The ruling came in a case in which the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Georgia and Legal Aid Society - Employment Law Center (LAS-ELC) filed a friend-of-the-court brief asserting that denying LEP defendants interpreters violates the U.S. Constitution and civil rights laws.

"The court acknowledged that we don't have two systems of justice in this country – one for English-speakers and another for everyone else," said Azadeh Shahshahani, Director of the National Security/Immigrants' Rights Project at the ACLU of Georgia. "The constitutional guarantee of due process applies to everyone in this country, not just fluent English-speakers."

The ACLU and LAS-ELC submitted their brief on behalf of Annie Ling, a Mandarin Chinese-speaker who was sentenced to 10 years in prison and five years probation after a trial without any interpreter to assist her. Because of her limited English, Ling did not understand that she had the option to plead guilty rather than going to trial and facing a much longer sentence. At her trial, she could not understand the testimony for or against her. Her own trial attorney admitted that because of Ling's limited English skills, he could not properly communicate with her without an interpreter. However, the attorney decided not to ask the court for an interpreter because he felt it would make the trial "take a lot longer" and make the jury "impatient." 

Ling's conviction was appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court, which today vacated the ruling upholding her conviction and sent her case back to the Georgia trial court.

"In America, state justice systems are required to ensure that all people, regardless of their primary language, have equal access to a fair trial and that includes the right to an interpreter and competent legal counsel," said Araceli Martínez-Olguín, an attorney with LAS-ELC. "A person's guilt or innocence cannot be fairly determined at a trial that is incomprehensible to the defendant."

The ACLU's and LAS-ELC's brief argued that denying LEP individuals interpreters during criminal trials violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of due process under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as the Sixth Amendment rights of criminal defendants to confront witnesses, be present at their own trial and receive effective assistance of counsel. In addition, Title VI of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires the state of Georgia to provide competent interpretation services to all LEP individuals who come into contact with its court system. The court's opinion agreed with the groups' brief that the right to an interpreter is guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment and the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Georgia Supreme Court also instructed all Georgia state courts to practice "vigilance in protecting the rights of non-English-speakers" and to provide "meaningful access" to LEP individuals in order to comply with Title VI. 

Attorneys on the case, Ling v. Georgia, are Jennifer Chang Newell and David Wakukawa (a volunteer attorney) of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, Shahshahani and Chara Fisher Jackson of the ACLU of Georgia and Martínez-Olguín of the Legal Aid Society - Employment Law Center.


STORY TAGS: HISPANIC, LATINO, MEXICAN, MINORITY, CIVIL RIGHTS, DISCRIMINATION, RACISM, DIVERSITY, LATINA, RACIAL EQUALITY, BIAS, EQUALITY

Video

White House Live Stream
LIVE VIDEO EVERY SATURDAY
alsharpton Rev. Al Sharpton
9 to 11 am EST
jjackson Rev. Jesse Jackson
10 to noon CST


Video

LIVE BROADCASTS
Sounds Make the News ®
WAOK-Urban
Atlanta - WAOK-Urban
KPFA-Progressive
Berkley / San Francisco - KPFA-Progressive
WVON-Urban
Chicago - WVON-Urban
KJLH - Urban
Los Angeles - KJLH - Urban
WKDM-Mandarin Chinese
New York - WKDM-Mandarin Chinese
WADO-Spanish
New York - WADO-Spanish
WBAI - Progressive
New York - WBAI - Progressive
WOL-Urban
Washington - WOL-Urban

Listen to United Natiosns News