I’m not just posting about Ling v. Georgia (PDF) because I’m her criminal appeals lawyer. Although it is pretty nice to have lost a motion for new trial and an appeal to the Georgia Court of Appeal and ultimely win in the Supreme Court on cert. while helping to secure a new substantive new substantive
Due Process comes at a price. According to Patrick Fox, in a recent article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, it is expensive to provide interpreters for non-English-speaking defendants. In 2009, Gwinnett County paid $539,803 to provide interpreters. With a more diverse population comes an increased need for interpreters. Judge Davis of the Superior Court of Gwinnett County, estimates that interpreters have been provided in over 42 languages in 2009.
The Rosetta Stone Comment
Of course, it appears that the Constitution of the United States is being lost in translation to those responsible for funding court systems. One city council member said that he wishes that he had gotten the Rosetta Stone software because he believes the court interpreting is a “sweet gig.” Being a certified court interpreter is hard work, requiring proficiency in two languages, knowledge of the court system, and the ability to multi-task in a challenging often high stress environment. Buying some software from a kiosk at the mall probably won’t make you a certified court interpreter, but it might get you “close enough for government work” in some Georgia Courts, even if you are the arresting officer, a probation officer, or a co-defendant.