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Taxpayers Now Paying for Pennsylvania`s Court Interpreters
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June 21, 2010, 10:23 PM
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From an e-mail to Pennsylvania attorneys from the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, hawking a "CLE" (continuing legal education) class on the topic:
"The Administrative Office of Pa Courts (AOPC) has promulgated rules effective May 2010 implementing the 2006 PA Interpreter Certification Law, Act 172 of 2006. The new rules require that counties will be responsible for paying the costs for court interpreters who must be certified by AOPC and provided to LEP (limited English proficiency) litigants not only in criminal, but also in civil cases."
It`s outrageous enough that taxpayers bear this burden, but let me note a few other insults to our dignity. Civil litigants and criminal defendants — usually Hispanic, sometimes Asian — know full well the "wrench in the system" created by a real (or feigned) inability to speak English, so they take full advantage. Someone who`s been here 15 years all of a sudden can`t speak English when the opportunity arises: it makes them more sympathetic, creates inefficiency and delay, and blunts cross-examination.

In the criminal world, it`s opened a whole new way for Spanish-speaking defendants to claim that "miscommunication" invalidated consents to search or Miranda waivers. In the civil world, one wonders why an elective plaintiff who doesn`t speak English would be entitled to taxpayer-funded interpretation.

Where are the Pennsylvania legislators on this? Here`s one on the right track:

Pennsylvania Taxpayers Should Not Pay for Benefits to Illegal Immigrants, Says Marsico 6/2/2010

State Rep. Ron Marsico (R-Lower Paxton) recently called on the Chairwoman of the House State Government Committee, Babette Josephs, to consider his legislation to create the Proof of Citizenship for Receipt of Public Benefits Act. If passed, it would require identification of lawful presence in the United States as a prerequisite to the receipt of public benefits. [More]

Some ideas, if any are listening: make criminal defendants who plead guilty or are convicted pay for the costs of interpretation, after-the-fact. On the civil front, forbid the maintenance of an action by an illegal alien, period.