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COA reverses denial of translated version of hearing

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The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that the post-conviction court abused its discretion when it denied a woman’s request to have access to the electronic recording of her guilty plea hearing.

In the case of Maria Patricia (Franco) Suarez v. State of Indiana, No. 02A05-1008-PC-508, Maria Suarez pleaded guilty to Class A misdemeanor criminal conversion at her initial hearing in 2006 through the aid of an interpreter that translated the proceedings from English to Spanish and vice versa. She had no counsel at the hearing.  In 2009, she requested and received a transcript of the hearing, but it contained only the part of the hearing that was conducted in English. Suarez thereafter filed a petition for post-conviction relief in November 2009, alleging that her guilty plea was not made knowingly, intentionally, and voluntarily.

In 2010, Suarez’s attorney – a native Spanish-speaker – was granted permission to listen to the recording of the hearing. Based on irregularities in the translation, Suarez requested the recording of the hearing. The PCR court denied that request.

Suarez then filed a more detailed request, stating that based on the irregularities reported by her counsel, she wanted an independent court-certified translator to translate the portions of the proceedings that were conducted in Spanish and were the subject of legal concern. The state did not object to Suarez’s request, and the PCR court granted the request with the understanding that a state-certified interpreter would be used for the translation and that the PCR court would “check with the administrative judge for the criminal division of the Allen Superior Court to verify” how to procedurally accomplish the request.

At the next status hearing, the PCR court reversed its ruling and stated the previously provided English-only transcript was the only transcript available. The court also informed the parties that the recording of the hearing was not available, and that the PCR court would not provide a translation of the Spanish portions of the hearing.  

In its reversal, the COA cited Indiana Post-Conviction Rule 1(5), “[a]ll rules and statutes applicable in civil proceedings including pre-trial and discovery procedures are available to the parties . . . .” It also cited Indiana Administrative Rule 9(D), which states that a guilty plea hearing is a public court record, and that Suarez’s record should have been available to her.

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  1. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  2. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  3. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

  4. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

  5. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. AT the time the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted all major pharmaceutical companies in the US sold marijuana products. 11 Presidents of the US have smoked marijuana. Smoking it does not increase the likelihood that you will get lung cancer. There are numerous reports of canabis oil killing many kinds of incurable cancer. (See Rick Simpson's Oil on the internet or facebook).

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