-  This bill is not active in this session.
  •  Summary 
  •  Actions 
  •  Committee Votes 
  •  Floor Votes 
  •  Memo 
  •  Text 
  •  LFIN 
  •  Chamber Video/Transcript 

A00129 Summary:

COSPNSRDe Los Santos, Simone, Kelles, Simon, Raga, Taylor, Seawright, Levenberg, Otis, Joyner, Walker, Davila, Glick, Zaccaro, Rosenthal L, Zinerman
Amd §100.40, CP L
Provides that an accusatory instrument or supporting deposition consisting of factual allegations by a deponent with limited English proficiency is not sufficient unless accompanied by a sworn statement from an interpreter affirming the accuracy of the English interpretation.
Go to top

A00129 Memo:

submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
  TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the criminal procedure law, in relation to requiring accurate interpretation of statements made by deponents with limited English proficiency in accusatory instruments and supporting depositions   PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: The purpose of this legislation is to ensure that deponents who are not fully proficient in the English language have their statements in support of an accusatory instrument accurately taken.   SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section one of the bill amends section 100.40 of the criminal procedure law by adding a new subdivision that sets forth two alternate procedures for taking statements from deponents with limited English proficiency. Section two sets forth the effective date.   JUSTIFICATION: New York is a linguistically diverse state, and some New Yorkers are not fully proficient in the English language. In the criminal-justice context, this becomes an issue when a New Yorker who is not fully profi- cient in English seeks to report a crime. In a recent trio of criminal appeals involving the use of translators for documenting statements from such witnesses, the New York State Court of Appeals decided that it would be inappropriate to require that a certificate of translation be filed with a supporting deposition when converting a complaint to an information. The court's decision in these cases fails to account for the fact that, for many New Yorkers, English is not their primary language. This bill seeks to remedy that failure. In New York, absent a waiver from the accused, the People may proceed with a prosecution only when a complaint has been duly converted to an information. This is because, unlike a complaint, which may contain hearsay allegations, an information must contain non-hearsay factual allegations of an evidentiary character that, if true, would establish every element of the offense charged and the defendant's commission of that offense. These factual allegations are usually relayed to law enforcement officials either verbally or in writing. Either way, these statements ultimately take the form of a supporting deposition that is then appended to the complaint, thus completing the necessary conver- sion. The person making these statements, whether they be a witness to the offense or the alleged complainant/victim, is known as a deponent. A description of this process lays bare the problem - How can a person who is not proficient in English relay facts of an evidentiary character to law enforcement officials if he, she, or they cannot speak or write English? The solution is rather simple: Require that law enforcement officials use qualified translators who can translate the deponent's accusations into English, and then require that these individuals submit affidavits affirming what they did as well as their qualifications. Perplexingly, the majority in this case characterizes any requirement that a certificate of translation be filed when converting a complaint to an information as a "judicially-created" barrier to justice. However, the police already rely on translation services if such services are readily available to them. The issue is that they sometimes rely on people who do not subsequently disclose the extent to which they are in fact qualified to serve as translators or interpreters. Performing translations and interpreting comments from one language to another is inherently complex, and any error when taking down a person's statement while preparing a supporting deposition may result in the mischaracter- ization of an allegation of fact necessary to support the conversion of a complaint into an information. Moreover, the dissent in that case correctly notes that having a translator allows for more access to the criminal justice system, not less. The proposed legislation would ensure that deponents have their allega- tions accurately translated by someone who is qualified to translate them, while also putting defendants on sufficient notice of the facts giving rise to the factual allegations levied against them.   PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New Bill.   FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: To be determined.   EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect on the ninetieth day after it shall have become a law.
Go to top