No English, No Problem. New Mexico Court Says Non-English Speakers Have Right to Be Jurors

From AP (by ABC News):

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.”

Of course! Press 1 for English. Press 2 for Goodbye America you grew up in.

12 comments

  1. After 35 years as a court reporter and attorney, I have to ask: how in the name of all that’s holy can a juror who doesn’t understand English perform his or her duties as a juror in a courtroom where English is the language being used?? What air-head wrote that bit of dicta in the opinion? Not someone who doesn’t speak English, I’ll bet. And not someone who will have to live with the consequences of non-English speaking jurors, either. How does one become a citizen without being able to speak English? (I cheat; I already know the answer.) By being tested and interviewed by Mexican-Americans who will give you a pass; and they say Anglos are racists?? Sure. Yeah, and only Anglos, right?

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