Saturday, October 2, 2010

Followup Article- Deafness in the Legal System

Yesterday, I posted about a deaf man freed after a DNA test proved him innocent of a crime  that he had already spend 20 years in prison for.

Today, I saw a great article that talked about his conviction and exoneration, with much of the focus on his deafness and how it impacted the case. Here is the link to the article, along with some quotes that I thought were noteworthy.
  • "Prosecutors don't routinely check whether a deaf defendant had a certified interpreter during police questioning, or whether the defendant's written words would have a different meaning in American Sign Language."
  • "When Richardson police asked Brodie in writing why he abducted and sexually assaulted the girl, he wrote, "I don't know WHY?" Those words were taken as a confession until the district attorney's office began reinvestigating the case."
  • "They said police should use a certified interpreter who is trained to sign legal words like those that come up in Miranda warnings when officers ask suspects to waive their rights. Elliott said the ideas of waiving your rights to remain silent and to have an attorney don't automatically translate in deaf culture. "
  • For 20 years, authorities have said that the 5-year-old victim told them her attacker spoke with a "clown" voice. Police and prosecutors have said the girl was describing how a deaf person speaks. But a recording of the interview shows the girl actually told police the man had a "low voice." 
    • My side note: What the heck?! What does a "clown voice" even sound like? I don't think I've ever heard a clown talk...

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