1. Health
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Police Mistreatment of Deaf

A Suspect


Updated January 14, 2011

Finally one of the nurses checks it out, and finds it, and tells me that it's in the storage medical cabinet. I'm then released from custody at 10:30pm, sign a form saying I would be back in arraignment court at 9am the following morning, and receive back all that I had on me that morning, with a little difficulty in telling them that I have hearing aid batteries in the storage medical cabinet.

No Interpreter Provided

The next morning, I'm in arraignment court, and am the second to be called, and am told, with my lawyer next to me, but no interpreter, that I have another court date on December 3, 9:00am in courtroom 6.

The day before I show up, I go to the court administrator to request in writing for an interpreter, and am assured that I will have one. I'm in the courtroom the next day with judge AS presiding. I was called early into the proceedings, and told them that I was waiting for my lawyer, SW, replacing JB. During a break in proceedings, I went back to the court administrator to request an interpreter. The second time I'm called, I have my lawyer, but still no interpreter. A continuation is filed, for December 20th, and again I request an interpreter. Outside the courtroom, I'm told that the detective was to show up, but didn't, and if he doesn't show up for this next date, my case is dismissed, and all charges are dropped.

On December 20, I'm in court again. Detective G. and JB are there, but still no interpreter. JB tells me I can may be going into the diversion program. A continuation is filed again, for January 19th, same time, same courtroom. JB requests that I come to his office in a few days. I do that, and he talks to me about taking the detective to a few hamfests to see what goes on out there. I agree, and start looking for some hamfest dates.

I tried to take the detective to three hamfests. He showed up at none, though I notified him via the TTY relay, leaving messages (could not reach him in person). One particular hamfest I attended I tried contacting him for three days straight. No show.

Legal Rights Violated?

That same day, I got a packet from NCLD, National Center on Law and Deafness. There are various things that apply to my case, after reading through it. Page two, fourth paragraph, first sentence says "If a hearing impaired person is arrested, the arresting officer's Miranda warning should be communicated to the arrestee on a printed form approved for such use by the law enforcement agency where there is no qualified interpreter immediately available and communication is otherwise in adequate." This means that the person who is under arrest, should at that point, be given this printed form, not afterwards, but right there on the spot. I got it in the office, way AFTER I was arrested at home!

The next page, second paragraph, third sentence says: "If an interpreter is not achieving adequate communication as judged by the deaf person, the interpreter, or a law enforcement official, another interpreter must be secured who is qualified to interpret for that individual." I had requested an interpreter at least 4 times with absolutely no success. All my court appearances, time in the lockup, talks with the officers and detectives had no interpreter, not even someone asking me if I wanted one, though they knew about my hearing problem.

Same page, third paragraph, next-to-last sentence: "...is one way a law enforcement agency may prevent objections to the adequacy of this communication, as presentation of a printed Advice of Rights form without an interpreter will seldom, if ever, be sufficient." Again, where was an interpreter during the arrest and booking procedures?

Next paragraph: "Questioning of deaf persons should also take place only with an interpreter present in order to comply with Section 504 and to achieve reliable communication. Many law enforcement agencies videotape all communications with deaf defendants in order to be able to substantiate the effectiveness of the communication and the quality of the interpretation." What reliable communication? It went from reliable communications to junk after the first officer started talking to me, but not the second. There was a very large communications breakdown with the first officer, which led to this misunderstanding, which should never have happened! Had there been an interpreter, or my neighbor present, there would never have been this misunderstanding, and I would have understood everything he said, and this so-called stolen property in my storage would never have been brought up. Then comes the part of the arrest and booking procedure. No interpreter the whole time, and I had to rely on some others to help out, and had I not heard my name being called, I would have been in the holding tank for a long while!

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Hearing Loss
  4. Hearing Loss
  5. Accessibility
  6. Legal Rights for Deaf/HOH
  7. Police and Deaf People - Treatment of Deaf People by Law Enforcement

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.