Saturday, April 07, 2007

405: Murder Will Out

But Ridor has a good point about needing to have a Deaf juror.

There's been a lot of furor over the Daphne Wright case. A lot of Deaf bloggers are complaining that the trial is unfair, especially the always-great MishkaZena, who here asks for native ASL users to evaluate Daphne's ASL skills and voice their opinions on her need for a CDI (certified Deaf interpreter, a Deaf person skilled at communicating with Deaf people of all language levels and usage in American Signed Language who would ensure the defendant understands everything clearly.)

For the record, I agree with them. Yes, the evidence is strongly against Ms. Wright. I think she did it, for what it is worth, although I am not there and it is not my place to judge. But irregardless of her actions, she still has the right to a fair trial and there should be a right way to do it, and I think one of these ways should be to include a Deaf person on the jury, at least! It's not just about making sure that there is a jury of peers, but also giving the jury the benefit of the information from someone inside the culture.

I admit the evidence seems strongly against Ms. Wright, but the jury is asked to sort of be detectives and sift through lots of information to the truth.
Suppose there were a trial of a Deaf man and one of the points against him was he did not call 911 for help. If there is a Deaf person on the jury he might say, well, if there was no TTY around, how could he call for help? And that's a point the jury might overlook. Deaf people don't tend to think about running to the phone immediately.
Or vice-versa - a Deaf juror might be able to see a defendant signing in their native language and "catch" a lie where an interpreter would not. They could independently inform the group and the Judge if the interpreter is doing a good job. They would be able to explain certain slang phrases in ASL to other jurors better than an interpreter. For the same reason, a court SHOULD want a Deaf interpreter. The court turns this down because of 1) cost and 2) fear of giving too much support to the defendant. But it is silly because the Deaf Interpreter can be the ally of the court too and help get at the truth.

I suppose I think of having a Deaf person on the Jury as equivalent to giving the Jury its own Deaf interpreter... as well as provide the Jury with a more accurate view of the Deaf defendant, their facial and signing expressions... and any witnesses who may be Deaf... and any family members, whether Deaf or hearing...

On the other hand, you could also claim that the Deaf community is so small it's impossible for any Deaf community member to be impartial. Can you imagine?

Thoughts? Have a good weekend.

P.S. Someone asked about RSS feeds - I have no clue how to use those or post them on the website, if anyone wants to explain feel free!


mishkazena said...

Me always great? Oh, you are so sweet, Joseph :)

The reporters are now covering the concerns of Deaf people about the trail not being fair to Daphne. Two articles on this issue were published yesterday and one sometimes soon.

Our concerns infuriated some of hearing viewers. They feel Daphne has already been too pampered and that we want her free because she is deaf (eyes rolling).

Good post as usual, Joseph :)

J.J. Puorro said...

I agree on most counts.

However, I am not sure about the legality (is that a word?) of a Deaf juror taking advantage of what a Deaf defendant may sign that isn't transcribed by the court.

Nonetheless, should I ever be indicted for murder I am definitely going to request at least ONE Deaf juror.

Another thing, has any Deaf person in the Deaflogsphere been on a jury? I know I would like to...

Joseph Rainmound said...

Hmmm. Good question JJ - but what about Spanish people who use interpreters in court and who have Spanish people on the jury?

You can read about my own jury duty experience here, but I have not stood on a jury and would love to hear too.

And Mishka - I try to believe people work from ignorance not hate so we must educate! That's why I also include info about a Deaf juror feeding information to the Jury. It isn't just about helping the Deaf defendant, it's also about helping the search for truth!

Anonymous said...

Great article and I am proud that it is getting out in the open of what is truly need in the court.

Keep up the good work all of you!!

BEG said...

Apropos the RSS feed, you already have one courtesy of Blogger. Most browsers will understand what the orange icon in the location field means but if someone wants the link, this is the rss one:

You are also providing atom and an older version of rss, so there should be a feed for anyone :-)

Oh, and the post itself? Yes, agreed completely ;-)

You will have people screaming pampered, no matter what. She's not just deaf, she's a lesbian too. She's not just a deaf lesbian, she's also african american. A lot of bigots in this country just can't accept any of that, let alone three of them at once. Bah.

mishkazena said...

Joseph, yes, it is mostly from ignorance, not from hatred.

Todd said...

First of all, I'd like to see more Deaf people serve on juries, not just sitting on cases involving Deaf people.

Like you, I was summoned to a jury pool, but was never called at the end of the day for an actual trial. I probably wouldn't have made it into the jury anyway, probably out of 'professional courtesy'.