Monday, December 10, 2007

No speak English

In the summer of 2002, I was called for grand jury duty in Queens. On the first day of the four-week stint, I joined a goodly number of other citizens in a large courtroom on Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens to be sworn in before we went to our respective assignments.

English literacy: A must to succeed in borough

...the presiding judge called three men up to the bench. Each of them, it seems, had asked to be excused from jury duty because of the inability to understand English.

The judge was clearly incensed. After all, he pointed out, these men were naturalized citizens and were expected to be able to understand English as part of their citizenship requirements.


Just adopt a rule stating that a person can't use the "no English" excuse as a reason to get out of jury duty. They obviously were able to read and respond to the summons ordering them to appear and understood the judge's questions.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'd hate to be a defendant
if the only English that a juror can understand
is what was on their summons!

Maybe English literacy testing
might not be a bad idea to institute!

Then if it's discovered that someone can't pass
basic English.....you're "left back".....
in this case you get demoted to a lower grade
of citizenship and lose some privileges!

Anonymous said...

The tweeded are exempt from the rules that govern the lives of typical New Yorkers.

Our communities (and tax dollars) are at their disposal.

Ant said...

What makes you think they can understand their summons?

I read my parents their mail as soon as I was old enough to read.

I love the idea of "left back" citizens... What do we do with the people who were born here, went to school here and still can't read? Do we get to deport them?

Julie said...

How did they become citizens without learning English? How did they take the test? And if you're born and raised here there really is no excuse whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

This is exactly what drives me crazy. You come to this country (legally, or I hope you get deported) and learn our language and our customs.

BE AMERICAN.....OR GO HOME....
I AM SICK OF MY TAX DOLLARS GOING TO TRANSLATION. AND I AM SICK OF LOOKING AT NEIGHBORHOODS TURN INTO SLUMS.

Michael said...

As like all laws that have do to do with immigration, we do not need new laws, we just need to strictly enforce the laws that are already in place.

Anonymous said...

What do we do with the people who were born here, went to school here and still can't read? Do we get to deport them?
----------

Unless you have a medical reason, there is no excuse for someone not to apply themselves to learn basic skills like reading.

Everyone should have a basic understanding of their duties and rights as American citizens. Those who don't endanger things for the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

Learn proper English or leave the country! (And if you try to AX me something on your job interview, trust me, you won't be hired.)

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen a jury summons recently, but don't they have instructions in Spanish as well as a bunch of other languages, like they do with voting information?

Anonymous said...

I'm going to buy that tee shirt
I saw on Canal Street last week.

It read,

"Welcome to America.
Now speak English"!

Yes....you bet I'll wear it!

Captain Science said...

I went though the exact same thing last year here in Queens. Now when someone uses the "I don't understand or speak english" the court clerk handed them a sheet of locations of english classes and told them that they have to go to the class and will be called back with in a year, and the next time they can't use the "no english" as an excuse.

Anonymous said...

There are some really good opinions and suggestions to deal with I don'ta speaka da inglissh on this blog. Bravo to all.

Enforce existing law. No english proficency test - no citizenship - rachet up level of difficulty of determiming proficency - applicant should pay for all costs, period. Have citizen pay for non-english documents or instructions related to Gov. - we should not even be in the buisness of providing translations in any written Gov material. Proof of English profeciency for resident - aliens every 5 years or lose green card. Mandatory private school - 2 years PT for English L. learning. Not Gov funded. For those whom speak like this - try to AX me something should be part of a oral highschool graduation requirement - this absoulutely drives me insane!

This is the USA if you arrive here you know the English language must be learned - period.

Anonymous said...

Bravo....right on....last poster!

Anonymous said...

i'm new to the sight, what or who are "the tweeded" just curious.
thanks

Ant said...

The lot of you are being ridiculously overcritical.

Naturalized citizens had to pass some sort of oral test unless they married into citizenship...so they have learned a degree of English that will get them through day-to-day activities.

These citizens would be lost in a jury trial. The jargon used in court proceedings is incomprehensible to someone who hasn't gone to law school or watched countless hours of Law and Order. Personally, I'm grateful (and hopeful) that jurors who cannot comprehend the nuances of our legal system are weeded out from the proceedings.

People who "ax" questions, they unfortunately aren't allowed to be excused because of their poor ability to grasp the English language. Unlike the test-taking naturalized citizen, any US born high school drop-out can serve as a juror regardless of whether or not they've even heard of our three branches of government.

Ant said...

I should really read these posts more thoroughly so as to comment just once or twice. I'm sorry I missed this one:

Anonymous writes:

This is exactly what drives me crazy. You come to this country (legally, or I hope you get deported) and learn our language and our customs.


Our language and customs?! What customs would those be? Disney World? square dancing? cattle wrangling? The peace pipe?! I think they go over Thanksgiving in the naturalization test so we have that one.

Anonymous said...

Cutting off all non-English language government forms, instructions, information, signs, applications, benefits, voice mail prohibitions against non-English conversations saves huge money for taxpayers and industry. It would also create widespread opportunities for those with command of the English language as well as a foreign tougue to create specialty buisnesses to provide services to folks who do not bother or too stupid to converse in English to obtain help. This would give these folks incentive to learn and save on the cost of translations. America speaks English only!

Queens Crapper said...

"The jargon used in court proceedings is incomprehensible to someone who hasn't gone to law school or watched countless hours of Law and Order."

So then why aren't 99% of jurors dismissed? I am sure most people do not watch these shows or went to law school.

"Unlike the test-taking naturalized citizen, any US born high school drop-out can serve as a juror regardless of whether or not they've even heard of our three branches of government."

Don't you think most people on trial are at about this level? Wouldn't this then be a jury of their peers?

Ant said...

They're not dismissed because a juror's ignorance can often help lawyers. Case in point:

A gay man in Brooklyn was recently convicted of a hate crime (which carries a more severe penalty) for robbing another gay man. The victim died when he was hit by a car running away from the assailant.

Afterwards, the jury foreman wrote letters to the presiding judge for leniency because he didn't think it was a hate crime and that the group was pressured to convict this crime as a hate crime.

It seems to me that in order for juror to be dismissed, not being able to follow a court proceeding isn't only an excuse for people with limited English proficiency... those who can understand it fully well still can't do what they think is the right thing.

As for jury of your peers, that's a myth. If it were true, the CEO of ENRON would have been convicted by a jury with the CEO of Matel for instance as the foreman.

Gangbangers and drug dealers aren't convicted by thugs and pimps... it's housewives and retirees who help put these people away. A teenager isn't held accountable for his crime by other teenagers. Not that I disagree with this system, but it certainly isn't a system that actively seeks out a defendant's peers.

Anonymous said...

No speak English is just a convenient excuse, most people do not want to serve juror duty, so they say "No speak English"

Anonymous said...

You guys are so stupid... and this shows signs of racism/bigotry/prejudice.

"This is exactly what drives me crazy. You come to this country (legally, or I hope you get deported) and learn our language and our customs."

This is not the foundation of what America was built on you naive imbecile. What are Americans besides people who's parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. came from a different country? This is a melting pot, is it not? If you don't like it, then maybe YOU should leave the country. The founding fathers would be turning in their graves hearing idiocy like this.

"BE AMERICAN.....OR GO HOME....
I AM SICK OF MY TAX DOLLARS GOING TO TRANSLATION. AND I AM SICK OF LOOKING AT NEIGHBORHOODS TURN INTO SLUMS."

If you don't like looking at neighborhoods turning into slums, don't complain about it, do something about it.