Man with no language has tough time in court

Posted by Audrey Dubois-Boutet on Feb 1, 2011 Feb 1, 2011

LegalHow do you prosecute someone who is deaf, mute and illiterate? The article linked at the end of this post tells the story of Juan Jose Gonzalez Luna, who at the age of 42 has no knowledge of any language, including sign language.

Gonzalez was tried in court, but his lack of understanding makes some people wonder if the trial is fair. The article goes on to note that the U.S. justice system is language-based, but this doesn’t mean that those who don’t speak the language should be allowed to commit crimes without answering to the law.

In Gonzalez’ case, props and photos were used to describe the reasons for his hearing. The Jan. 11 article said it wasn’t clear whether the defendant completely understood the consequences he was facing.

A number of languages are supported for courtroom interpretation, which allows those who don't speak English to be tried in the United States. But for those like Gonzalez, what can be done to explain legal terms and consequences? Will they ever truly understand the gravity of their situation?

What are your thoughts?

Article: Defendant with no language proves difficult to prosecute

Topics: Interpretation