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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. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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