Judgement Overturned for LEP Defendant Who Was Provided With Inadequate Language Services

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The Indiana Supreme Court has vacated a judgement against an LEP individual because the rights he waived were inaccurately interpreted.

Victor Ponce, a non-native English speaker who pleaded guilty under terms of an agreement, appealed the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. Ponce contended that the Spanish translation of the rights he was waiving by entering the plea was so inaccurate his plea of guilty was not entered knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily.

The Indiana Supreme Court agreed and reversed the judgment of the post-conviction court.

In Victor Ponce v. State of Indiana, an 11-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Rucker wrote:

Had the trial court uttered the words relayed to Ponce by the interpreter, we doubt that a court of review would hesitate to declare that Ponce had not been given his Boykin advisements. Thus, we are of the view that an advisement from the mouth of the court-appointed interpreter instead of that of the trial judge to be a distinction without a difference. In sum, we conclude that Ponce has demonstrated that his 1999 guilty plea hearing was not conducted in accordance with the mandates of Boykin.

 

Do you think this case will lead to more certified interpreters, not only in Indiana, but across the U.S.?

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