Tuesday, July 17, 2007

People v. Cardenas (Cal. Ct. App. - July 17, 2007)

Here's a great way to illegally kick Hispanics off your jury, at least if you've got a Hispanic defendant and/or witnesses who will testify in Spanish:

Ask all the prospective jurors whether they speak Spanish fluently. Hispanics will likely disproportionately respond in the affirmative. Then ask those (largely Hispanic) jurors, as we often do: "Imagine that a witness testifies in Spanish, and you think the interpreter misinterprets that testimony. For example, imagine that a defendant testifies, in Spanish, 'I wasn't there,' but the interpreter interprets this testimony as 'I was there'. Could you ignore the testimony as you actually heard it, and instead decide guilt or innocence purely on the basis of the interpreter's erroneous interpretation?" Some jurors will presumably say: "That seems totally wrong. I couldn't really do that." You get those -- largely Hispanic -- jurors dismissed for cause. Others will say: "Well, I could, but it would be difficult." Those jurors you can now dismiss with a peremptory challenge. Even if they're all Hispanic. Because you now have an allegedly race-neutral reason for booting them.

It works.