This case is clearly a travesty of justice. Last week in Maryland, Montgomery County Circuit Judge Katherine Savage dismissed all charges against a man accused of raping and repeatedly molesting a seven-year-old girl. She said he had been denied his right to a speedy trial.
The man had been arrested in August of 2004. Why had his trial not been held? It turns out that he is a Liberian immigrant, and his native language (Vai) is only spoken by about 100,000 people in a small region in Liberia (and part of Sierra Leone).
Even though the man had attended both high school and community college in the United States, and had spoken english to the police who investigated the crime, a court-appointed psychiatrist recommended that an interpreter be found for the man. The court agreed.
The court clerk said she had contacted the Liberian embassy and courts in all but three states. The first interpreter left the courtroom in tears because she couldn't take the graphic details of the horrid crime. A second interpreter was dismissed for faulty work. A third couldn't show up at the last minute because of personal family problems.
Finally, a suitable interpreter was found, but the judge ruled it had taken too long and dismissed the case. I believe her ruling was in error, and I hope the prosecutors can get it overturned on appeal.
The Constitutional guarantee of a speedy trial was to prevent prosecutors from jailing someone for a long period of time while they continued to search for evidence. That does not apply in this case.
The prosecutors have been ready to go to trial for three years, but have been prevented from doing so by a defense request for an interpreter. I have doubts that an interpreter was really needed in this case, but if one was, it was to help insure the defendent got a fair trial. It was not a prosecution attempt to delay the trial while they searched for evidence.
The defense should not be allowed to make demands that delay a trial for years, and then profit from that delay by having the case dismissed for lack of a speedy trial. Furthermore, this defendent has not been incarcerated during this wait for his requested interpreter. He only spent one night in jail, and then was released on $10,000 bond (another travesty).
This judge was wrong. She allowed the defendent to delay the trial and then rewarded him for it. She should be ashamed of herself for turning this child molester loose on society!