Legal Interpreting Services
and Lack of English Proficiency in Jurors: The State Interest

Legal Interpreting Services in Jury Trials

Legal interpreting services are required when jurors are not fluent in English. In Woodel v. State of Florida the Court continued to state that even if the Defendant proved all points, they still would not have found a constitutional violation had occurred as the U.S. Supreme Court has expressly held that states may prescribe relevant qualifications for their jurors and that English proficiency represents a legitimate state interest. This holds true regardless of whether or not there is a specific statutory requirement mandating that a juror be proficient in English in order to serve on a jury as lack of English proficiency constitutes a showing of hardship, extreme inconvenience or public necessity.

Finally, the Court upheld the prohibition against a foreign language interpreter assisting during jury deliberations on the ground that this would contravene the crucial state interest in protecting the sanctity of the jury deliberations, which is a necessity. (“Permitting the use of an interpreter during jury deliberations is a fundamental error” Dilorenzo v. State, 711 So. 2d 1362 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998).

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