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Subj: Re: Police failure to provide interpreters for Deaf victims ...
Date: 97-03-26 11:32:38 EST
From: myared@SMTP.AED.ORG (Michael Yared)
Sender: EDUDEAF@LSV.UKY.EDU (A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education)
Reply-to: EDUDEAF@LSV.UKY.EDU (A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education)
To: EDUDEAF@LSV.UKY.EDU (Multiple recipients of list EDUDEAF)

< This is an issue for teachers who are at the HS level and can discuss this in class. A parent on DEAF-L suggested I posted this, including the last blunt sentence because his deaf son was involved in a traffic accident and he did not know what was his rights in dealing with the police officers. Also, teachers will know more about the rights of deaf students better than parents.

I am an attorney working on several lawsuits involving police failure to provide interpreters for deaf and hard of hearing victims/suspects/witnesses of a crime. The cases each involve deaf women who were battered by their husbands and then arrested because the police couldn't or wouldn't communicate with them or provide ASL interpreters. In each case, the police took the word of the batterer at face value and arrested the woman for domestic violence/assault. I'm aware of several other lawsuits and plenty of DOJ consent decrees involving other municipalities in similar situations. But I'm wondering if anyone on this newsgroup has experience with cases like this. It has been pretty difficult to get good information on the frequency of wrongful arrests/convictions of Deaf d.v. victims -- mainly, I suspect, because you're dealing with a population that has been institutionally discouraged from coming forward and reporting their problems to officials who repeatedly fail them. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.>

This was my reply to jharja

Contact the NAD's Deaf Legal Defense Fund. They are on http://www.nad.org Another is the Legal Network for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People and contact Leonard Hall, c/o, Legal Network, PO Box 106, Olathe, KS 66051-0106. Sorry no phone number found.

Law review articles relating to this topic are: Berko, Michele-Lee. "Preserving the sixth amendment right of the deaf criminal defendant," 97 Dickinson Law Review 101-130 (Fall 1992).

Chilton, Elizabeth. "Ensuring effective communication: the duty of health care providers to supply sign language interpreters for deaf patients," 47 Hastings Law Journal 871-910 (March 1996).

Gardner, Elaine. "Deaf victims and defendants in the criminal justice system." 19 Clearinghouse Review 748-751 (November 1985).

Lee, Stephanie Hoit. "Wisconsin v. Rewolinski: do members of the deaf community have a right to be free from search and seizure of their TDD call?" 10 Law & Inequality 187-216 (June 1992).

McAlister, Jamie. "Deaf and hard-of-hearing criminal defendants: how you gonna get justice if you can't talk to the judge?". 26 Arizona State Law Journal 163-200 (Spring 1994).

Simon, Jo Anne. "The use of interpreters for the deaf and the legal community's obligation to comply with the ADA." 8 Journal of Law and Health 155-199 (1993/1994).

Smith, Deirdre M. "Confronting silence: the Constitution, deaf criminal defendants, and the right to interpretation during trial.," 46 Maine Law Review 87-150 (1994).

Strauss, Karen & Richardson. "Breaking Down the Telephone Barrier - Relay Services on the Line." 64 Temple Law Review 583-607 (1991). "...despite the confidentiality provision, relay calls are subject to court-ordered wiretaps to the same extent..."

Tucker, Bonnie. "Deaf prison inmates: time to be heard." 22 Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review 1-71 (November 1988).

Vernon, McCay, Lawrence Raifman, and Sheldon Greenberg. "The Miranda warnings and the deaf suspect." 14 Behavioral Sciences & the Law 121-135 (Winter 1996).

King, J. Freeman. "The law officer and the deaf." The Police Chief (October 1, 1989) 57:98-99.

McAfee, James and Stephanie Musso, "Police Training and Citizens with Hearing Impairments." The Volta Review (Summer 1994) 96: 247-256.

There are two things. The ADA in Title II requires all 911 centers to be TTY accessibility and it is a good idea that all law enforcement agencies maintain a list of sign language interpreters to contact in situations like that. Secondly, a problem is that very few deaf people like to be involved with the rights of deaf people in jail, from captioning TV to TTY use to interpreters, maybe because it is a taboo subject or maybe because it is embarrassing. This is the same thing for people with disabilities. The late Richard Ricks, who ran the Saloshin Seminar at Gallaudet University, once said, "Deaf people can do anything, including murder, commit robbery, aggravated assault, rape, and other crimes except hear." Sad but true.

Mike Yared

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