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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. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  2. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

  3. @ Rebecca D Fell, I am very sorry for your loss. I think it gives the family solace and a bit of closure to go to a road side memorial. Those that oppose them probably did not experience the loss of a child or a loved one.

  4. If it were your child that died maybe you'd be more understanding. Most of us don't have graves to visit. My son was killed on a state road and I will be putting up a memorial where he died. It gives us a sense of peace to be at the location he took his last breath. Some people should be more understanding of that.

  5. Can we please take notice of the connection between the declining state of families across the United States and the RISE OF CPS INVOLVEMENT??? They call themselves "advocates" for "children's rights", however, statistics show those children whom are taken from, even NEGLIGENT homes are LESS likely to become successful, independent adults!!! Not to mention the undeniable lack of respect and lack of responsibility of the children being raised today vs the way we were raised 20 years ago, when families still existed. I was born in 1981 and I didn't even ever hear the term "CPS", in fact, I didn't even know they existed until about ten years ago... Now our children have disagreements between friends and they actually THREATEN EACH OTHER WITH, "I'll call CPS" or "I'll have [my parent] (usually singular) call CPS"!!!! And the truth is, no parent is perfect and we all have flaws and make mistakes, but it is RIGHTFULLY OURS - BY THE CONSTITUTION OF THIS GREAT NATION - to be imperfect. Let's take a good look at what kind of parenting those that are stealing our children are doing, what kind of adults are they producing? WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS TO THE CHILDREN THAT HAVE BEEN RIPPED FROM THEIR FAMILY AND THAT CHILD'S SUCCESS - or otherwise - AS AN ADULT.....

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