[Update (5/11): As noted by a commentator, Rumpole retracts!
THE FOLLOWING POST IS INCORRECT. RUMPOLE BLEW IT. SEE THE POST ON 511/06. JUDGE FARINA HAS NOT ORDERED ANY INTERPRETER NOT TO INTERPRET FOR A DEFENDANT’S FAMILY. SORRY. WE BLEW IT.
Maybe I should change the title to “Rumpole Loses a Cause”? (Although as the comments to the later story make clear, the incident really happened; seems it was just a misunderstanding of some kind.)]
“Rumpole” of the Justice Building Blog, now quite the talk of Miami-Dade litigators, has found a Cause, and it’s a good one:
JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG: NO HABLA INGLES….EVER
Here is the scene:
A lawyer is in court.
The Defendant is in custody.
There are sensitive plea negotiations at sidebar.
The case gets reset.
The defendant has to surrender his passport, pay a large fine and restitution before the case gets settled and he can get out of jail.
The new court date is two weeks away.
The interpreter does her job in court and on the way out the attorney wants to tell his client’s family the new court date and what needs to be done.
The attorney signals to the interpreter, who walks over and in Spanish asks the people if they are defendants.
They politely tell the interpreter that no, they are the family of the defendant who was just in court and they ask her what happened and when they have to be back in court.
The Interpreter reaches into her pocket, pulls out her reading glasses, clears her throat (ahhem) and loudly says for all to hear:
HEAR YE HEAR YE, BY ORDER OF THE CHIEF JUDGE OF THE ELEVENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT, IN AND FOR DADE COUNTY, I CANNOT ANSWER ANY OF YOUR QUESTIONS.
FURTHERMORE, BY ORDER OF THE CHIEF JUDGE, I CANNOT TRANSLATE ANY INSTRUCTIONS FROM YOUR ATTORNEY.
YOU MAY NOT BE TOLD THE NEXT COURT DATE.
YOU MAY NOT BE TOLD WHAT JUST HAPPENED.
WELCOME TO THE ELEVENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT OF DADE COUNTY.
I AM AUTHORIZED TO CONVEY TO YOU THAT THE CHIEF JUDGE, ON BEHALF OF ALL OF THE JUDGES OF THE ELEVENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT,
WISHES YOU A VERY NICE DAY.
This is not the rule elsewhere, not even in nearby Broward, which is not perhaps the watchword for sensitivity to non-English speakers and minorities. As Rumpole says, “WHEN BROWARD TAKES THE LEAD IN RACIAL OR ETHNIC SENSITIVITY, THEN YOU KNOW SOMETHING IS WRONG.”
Today, JusticeBuilding blog issued a retraction. They misinterpreted the instruction, disallowing provision of a “special” interpreter for a non-party for the duration of a proceeding (e.g., while a party testifies), as meaning that an interpreter was disallowed from facilitating understanding between an officer of the court and a non-party.
And immediately loses it again. LOL
I find YOUR assertion that the insistence upon the use of English is RACIST to be a bit biased and perhaps in itself racist. In a court of law where precise understandings and shades of meaning is paramount and there may need to be limitations to translation in certain procedures.
At any rate, equating disputes in this area as racism is entirely unfair. Nor should either the courts or the people that administer them be held liable for problems that arise in society because of society’s larger failings (in education, assimilation of immigrants, etc.)
I said “the use of english is racist”? Where?
I said that making it harder for families to understand what happened to their loved ones by forbidding translators to translate from English — something which usually happens after the hearing — was wrong (and insensitive). I didn’t say anything at all about the language actually used in court, which is and always has been English (with translation for defendants that require it).
And anyway, it turns out that it’s all (officially) a misunderstanding, and there’s no such rule anyway.