The Code of Criminal Procedure anticipates that nonEnglish speaking defendants will get a translator. The problem with Spanish forms is that there is no reliable person explaining the Spanish to them. The Spanish forms should not be a substitute for a translator.
If the forms are challenged, someone will have to translate them back into English. What is the advantage?
Down here on the border, we do english plea papers with translators/spanish speaking attorneys talking to the defendants. When it comes time to face the judge a translator translates the proceedings for the defendant. We do not do Spanish language plea papers.
Posts: 956 | Location: Cherokee County, Rusk, Tx | Registered: July 11, 2001
Many years ago, we tried using Spanish plea and disposition forms here. It didn't work. Our (bilingual) County Clerk threw a shoe, so we did some research. I thought that all counties up and down the border would be using Spanish forms, but found that no one did. Everyone used English forms with court translation into Spanish. The main problem we had was that our court files on those cases were unintelligible to outsiders, who have a right under Open Records to review those files. Then they needed a translator to know what the forms said, and what the disposition of the case was.
For a while after that, we did both the English and Spanish forms in the court files, then we moved to English in the file and Spanish to the Defendants for their records, but both of these systems were cumbersome and inefficient. Now we just use English forms exclusively in county court, and it works better than the other systems we tried.