TEXASTRANSLATOR.COM
Where translators and interpreters talk Texan

Austin, Texas
Childbeaters and lobbyists... After looking at photographs of a baby cruelly beaten with a leather belt, a Georgia jury sent Annie Ling to prison for ten years. The ATA and Pacific Interpreters blame the defendant's plight on insufficient subsidies for interpreters.
The Supreme Court disagreed. The State Supreme Court also looked at the photographs, heard the attorneys for both sides, and upheld the sentence. Why did the Supreme Court agree with the jurors and not the booty snatchers?
What lobbyists for taxpayer subsidies said: The ACLU's and LAS-ELC's brief was submitted on behalf of Annie Ling, a Mandarin-speaker who was sentenced to 10 years in prison and five years probation after a trial without an interpreter to assist her. Because of her limited English, Ling did not understand that she had the option to plead guilty rather than going to trial and face a much longer sentence, and at the trial, she could not understand the testimony for or against her.... (Another version of this verbiage was posted to the HITA-Houston Interpreters and Translators Association listserver by one Jorge Ungo, with no hint anywhere that the defendant was charged with cruelty to a child).
What really happened: Annie Ling is Malay, has lived in the US since 2000 and her husband is American. Her American defense attorney Justin Grubbs, is himself married to a Malay woman and has a much clearer awareness of Annie Ling's language situation than lobbyists for increased government subsidies. Mr Grubbs explained the charges of cruelty to a child to the defendant with the help of family members conversant in both languages. He also explained the one-year sentence plea bargain offer just as clearly. The defendant rejected the advice of counsel and the case went to trial. The jury saw photographs of the beaten child and sentenced her to ten years in prison followed by five years' probation instead of the one-year sentence she could have had through the professional competence of her attorney. What got the verdict were the photographs of the badly beaten baby Catherine shown to the jurors. There is no language barrier to understanding photographs of a beaten child.
The real issue the court ruled on:

Link to source...

Link to appeal decision...

S10C0460. ANNIE LING v. THE STATE
Court of Appeals Case No. A09A1271

This Court is particularly concerned with the following issue or issues:

(1) Whether the trial court found as a matter of fact that the defendant spoke and understood English well enough "to understand the nature and object of the proceedings against [her], to consult with counsel, and to assist in preparing [her] defense." Drope v. Missouri, 420 U.S. 162, 171 (95 SC 896, 43 LE2d 103) (1975). Accord Biggs v. State. 281 Ga. 627, 629 (642 SE2d 74) (2007).

(2) If not,

(a) whether the lack of a translator at trial for a non-English speaking defendant deprives the defendant of her constitutional right to be present at the trial; and

(b) whether a non-English-speaking defendant is deprived of the right to the effective assistance of counsel where counsel fails to secure an interpreter for trial. (Outcome: The appeals court found that she understood what was going on better than native-speaker lobbyists.)

How TexasTranslator found out: Dear Griffin Daily News, 
Your coverage of the Annie Ling case was very informative. Court interpreters intent on pressing the taxpayers for just a little more money make it seem as though this were another victimless crime like an expired visa or perhaps a few marijuana seeds under the couch cushions.  Only the Griffin paper makes it clear this was a case of child-beating. 
My profession is involved in that interpreters are subsidized by taxpayers on the grounds that subsidized lawyers are not sufficient. My concern is for the clarity of distinction between rights and entitlements. (TexasTranslator spoke directly to reporters, county officials and attorney Grubbs)
The defense attorney is unusually competent. Justin Grubbs is clear, precise and articulate to a degree I have rarely seen in thousands of hours of court work over the past 15 years. The defendant was not indigent, and both her household and that of Attorney Grubbs are binational. The attorney decided against an interpreter for strategic reasons. The Appeals court found that counsel was not at all ineffective.
Name change suggestion: If its new purpose is to gloss over photographic proof of the violation of an individual baby's right to not be beaten with a belt, the ACLU ought to change its name to American Corporate Lobbying Union.
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