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Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - 10:45am

Court Upholds Right To Interpreter

Updated: 4 years ago.
The Georgia Supreme Court has upheld the right of someone who speaks poor English to an interpreter at trial. (photo Brian Turner)

The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled that a person with little English skills has a right to an interpreter at trial.

The decision came in the case of a native Mandarin speaker.

Annie Ling was convicted of first degree cruelty to children, but she spoke limited English and her attorney didn't secure an interpreter for her at trial.

Both the trial and appeals courts denied her motions for a new trial.

But Georgia's highest court says, she is entitled to one.

ACLU Georgia filed an amicus brief on Lin's behalf.

The group's Azadeh Shahshahani says, the court acknowledged that Ling was "effectively absent."

"The court acknowledged that we don't have two-systems of justice in this country, one for English speakers and one for everyone else," Shahshahani says.

The decision was 4-to-3.

Dissenting justices wrote that the evidence supported the trial court's findings that Ling was competent.