Quite possibly the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard

A couple of years ago, I received a summons for jury duty. I responded by telling them I should not serve because I am about half deaf. It would be irresponsible for me to be seated on a jury, possibly deciding some man’s fate, if I could not hear the testimony and evidence clearly.

Well, how about his idiocy? From Jeff Bezos’ new newspaper, The Washington Post:

New Mexico Supreme Court ruling: Non-English speakers have right to serve as jurors

By Associated Press, Published: August 13

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The New Mexico Supreme Court is cautioning trial courts and lawyers in the heavily Hispanic state that citizens who don’t speak English have the right to serve on juries — a right enshrined in the state constitution even if people are non-English speakers.

The court issued the admonition Monday in a unanimous ruling that upholds an Albuquerque man’s convictions for murder and other crimes in the 2004 bludgeoning death of his girlfriend and a subsequent armed robbery and stabbing.

Michael Anthony Samora’s appeal argued that his convictions should be reversed because a Bernalillo County judge excused a Spanish-speaking prospective juror who had trouble understanding English.

The Supreme Court said it agrees with that argument but also said Samora’s defense needed to object during the trial but didn’t.

The ruling told trial judges and lawyers that they “have a shared responsibility to make every reasonable effort to protect the right of our non-English speaking citizens to serve on New Mexico juries.”

In the United States, trials are conducted in English. The questions asked by the attorneys are in English, the testimony given by the witnesses is in English, and the judge’s instructions are given in English. There may be instances where a witness simply does not speak very good English, and has to be questioned through an interpreter, and that places a burden on justice, not only for the costs of the interpreter, but on he jury in trying to measure inflection and meaning from a witness’ testimony they may not understand, and can hear only through an interpreter.

But the notion that the state would have to present an entire trial, and every bit of attorney questioning, witness responses, and judicial instructions through the filter of an interpreter? That’s madness. It’s not only unnecessarily expensive, but it would deprive the non-English-speaking juror of the advantages of being able to understand the verbal inflections of the speakers.

Then you have the additional problem of jury deliberations: how can the jury be expected to deliberate amongst themselves, by themselves, if one or more jurors doesn’t speak English?

The New Mexico Supreme Court’s decision is one of political correctness run amok. It makes absolutely no sense at all. It’s not fair to the state, it’s not fair to the accused, it’s not fair to justice.

The judges who came up with this cockamamie decision need to have their law licenses all pulled, because they are just flat f(ornicating) idiots.

11 Comments

  1. Sigh. Unfortunately, it’s the same “Logic” that lies behind multi-lingual voting ballots. Democracy depends on an informed voter (although individual Democrats do not, witness Obama’s re-election) and you can hardly be informed if you can’t read or understand politicial debates, political campaigns, political news, etc., the vast majority of which are conducted in English.

  2. Yes, God forbid this idea ever spread to California, where they will have to hold trials in English, Mexican, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, Russian, and God knows what else!

  3. I don’t object to multi-lingual ballots, because those are printed materials and really not that much more of an expense. I’m not sure why they are needed, other than where a language doesn’t use English letters, or did Jerry Brown become Geraldo Marrón on the California ballot?

    But it’s completely unfair, to everyone involved, to have jurors participating in a trial in which they do not understand the language.

    If a juror can’t understand the testimony, and the standard of proof is “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” wouldn’t he have to vote for acquittal, because there would have to be reasonable doubt if he missed some of the evidence.

  4. It’s also grounds for a surefire appeal. How can an accused be said to have been accorded the right to a fair trial when the jurors couldn’t understand the testimony?

    What’s next, deaf jurors?

  5. Well, they didn’t make a fuss, or require me to prove it, when I told Carbon County that I was too deaf to serve as a juror, but we have some actual common sense in small towns. (And yes, I really do have significant hearing loss.)

  6. It’s a common male evolutionary trait. Men who live with women develop a protective hearing loss in order to retain their sanity. Since it’s one or the other, Mother Nature has selected the least debilitating adaptation. Currently, there’s a pretty good commercial on TV featuring owls, which indicates the phenomena extends beyond human populations and well into the animal kingdom as well.

  7. I don’t object to multi-lingual ballots

    I do. Granted, it’s not that big a deal in a practical sense, but it sets the wrong tone. Only citizens can vote*, and citizens are supposed to be able to understand English. It’s YOUR job as a citizen to learn the language, not the job of the majority culture to accomodate your inability to do so.

    * Legally. Although don’t tell ACORN that.

  8. Mr. Editor, you may not object to multi-lingual ballots but I do. BTW, if we’re gonna do them in any foreign language then in all “fairness” we must do them in every foreign language. What makes Spanish better than French, or Dutch, or Farsi?

    First off we’re an English speaking country whether the Mexicans or arabs or anyone else like it or not. (in fact if they don’t like it they can leave to where their language is spoken). Any official business whether it’s a ballot or instructions for Social Security or rules to board an airplane should be in English. Trials included. If one needs a translation it is up to them , not we taxpayers, to pay for it.

  9. Look at the bright side of this idiocy. It will increase employment among English/Spanish interpreters. As comedian Ron white says, “You can’t fix stupid” and this court decision could not be anymore stupid than America twice electing an incompetent president.

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