Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Panel Throws Out Plea Over Miranda Mistranslation
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A defendant who may have been misled into waiving Miranda rights because of an erroneous translation is entitled to withdraw his plea and have his confession suppressed, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday.
In a per curiam opinion, the panel—Judges Harry Pregerson, Kim M. Wardlaw, and Milan D. Smith Jr.—said U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown of the District of Oregon should have granted the suppression motion by Jeronimo Botello-Rosales. Brown agreed that Yamhill County, Ore. sheriff’s detectives gave a faulty Spanish warning, but said a proper Miranda warning that was given in English eliminated any constitutional problem.
Botello entered a conditional guilty plea to charges of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana and possession of firearm by a person not lawfully in the United States.
The appellate panel disagreed.
“The Spanish-language warning administered to the defendant failed to reasonably convey his Miranda rights,” the judges said.. “The fact that the officer had previously administered correct Miranda warnings in English does not cure the constitutional infirmity, absent government clarification as to which set of warnings was correct.”
The panel explained that the detective, gave warnings in Spanish that would accurately translate into English as:
“You have the right to remain silence. Anything you say can be used against you in the law. You have the right to talk to a lawyer and to have him present with you during the interview. If you don’t have the money to pay for a lawyer, you have the right. One, who is free, could be given to you.”
The detective incorrectly used the word “libre” for “free,” the panel said, explaining that libre means “available” or “at liberty,” instead of “at no cost.” The defendant, the judges reasoned, could have taken that to mean that he would only get a lawyer if someone approved it or if the lawyer happened to have time to see him, rather than that the government had an absolute obligation to provide him with counsel if he wished to consult an attorney.
“While no ‘talismanic incantation’ is required,” the panel wrote, citing California v. Prysock, 453 U.S. 355 (1981), “such an affirmatively misleading advisory does not satisfy Miranda’s strictures.”
The case is United States v. Botello-Rosales, 12-30074.
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