A federal law, known as the Court Interpreter’s Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1827-28, states that the court must appoint an interpreter, paid for by the government, for anyone standing trial, such as a defendant in a criminal case, if the judge determines that the person does not speak English.
ACLU-DE was recently called upon to support that right, which is enshrined in the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the US Constitution, to ensure due process. We filed an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief in the Sussex County Superior Court case of State v. Cruz-Arano.
ACLU-DE was asked to file the brief shortly before trial when the court, which had originally ordered that an interpreter be provided, stating it had neither the authority nor money to provide an interpreter.
At a court hearing, held after the defendant filed a motion to dismiss and ACLU-DE Cooperating Attorney Joy Mulholland of McCarter & English submitted our amicus brief, the court ruled that the defendant was indigent and entitled to a public defender. That ruling obligated the state, through the public defender, to supply an interpreter.
We later learned that after the interpreter became involved in the case, all charges against Cruz-Arano were dropped.