Friday, February 27, 2009

Deaf Man Refused Interpreter in Court

A judge was wrong to refuse a deaf man his request to have a sign language interpreter in court. That’s the ruling of an appeals court in Wisconsin, overturning the ruling of judge Richard Nuss against Dean Kedinger of Waupun. He had fined Kedinger more than $23,000.

It all started when Kedinger’s neighbor sued him after Kedinger cut down trees along their property line. Kedinger countersued, saying he did have permission to cut the trees down. Kedinger asked the judge for an interpreter but was refused. Kedinger decided not to attend the hearing without one.

Here’s the remarkable comment from Judge Nuss as told in The Reporter:

"(Kedinger) walks into a store, buys a loaf of bread, puts gas in his car, pays his bills, engages in normal affairs of everyday life. He doesn't have an interpreter on his arm, and somehow he survives. But when it comes to a court proceeding, he all of the sudden needs an interpreter."

The appeals court said the judge’s action defined common sense and failed to provide Kedinger his right to due process.