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News Scan

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The Sky's Still Up There: Jan Crawford Greenburg of ABC takes some liberal commentators to task for ridiculous exaggerations of the Supreme Court's conservative turn, "almost breathtaking in its over-the-top hysteria." She compares them with Chicken Little, tabloids, Jerry Springer, and the WWF. A person unfamiliar with the comments and the reality might think Ms. Greenburg is doing some exaggerating herself, but she is not. (Hat tip, SCOTUSblog.)

The Griffin Case: Barbara Shelly, a member of the Editorial Board with the Kansas City Star has this commentary titled, “Focusing on death-penalty issues” published on July 19, 2007. Part of the article is a comparison of the two reports on the Larry Griffin case, one by the NAACP LDEF and one by the prosecutor's office. Ms. Shelly is clearly no fan of the death penalty. Later in the article she recites some of the usual anti-DP talking points. With regard to these two investigations, however, she says, "By my reading, [prosecutor] Joyce’s report is thorough and objective. Some of the methods and assertions of [NAACP study author] Gross’ investigation appear dubious in comparison."

Calibrated Depravity: The Washington Post has this article by Neely Tucker on the efforts of psychiatrist Michael Welner to create a scale for measuring which murders are more depraved than others.

Charges dropped in sex-abuse of minor: Mahamu Kanneh, a Liberian immigrant living in Maryland, was arrested in 2004 for the rape and repeated sexual assault of a 7-year-old female relative. Recently a trial judge dropped the charges because almost 3 years of delays “violated his right to a speedy trial.” In short, an interpreter fluent in Kanneh’s native language Vai, (spoken in West Africa) could not be found. Kanneh’s attorney had demanded that an interpreter was needed, even though Kanneh had attended high school and community college in Montgomery Couty, Maryland and had spoken to detectives in English. Prosecutors are now considering whether or not they should appeal the Judge’s ruling, because Kanneh’s charges cannot be refiled, reports Ernesto Londono of the Washington Post.

Former death row inmate Aaron Patterson, pardoned by then-Gov. and now-convict George Ryan, awaits sentences on drug and weapons charges, reports Don Babwin of the AP. Three days ago Patterson had to be "dragged yelling and kicking from the courtroom," apparently "set off by court officials' use of a phrase common at sentencing hearings: career criminal."

2 Comments

Is there an actual constitutional right to an interpreter in a criminal trial?

There is in California. "A person unable to understand English who is charged with a crime has a right to an interpreter throughout the proceedings." Art. I § 14. I expect that is the rule in other states, whether it is constitutional, statutory, or just standard practice.

However, if the defendant in this case spoke enough English to attend college, it is difficult to understand why an interpreter was so necessary as to warrant holding up the trial this long.

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