To find an example of court-sanctioned discrimination against Spanish-speaking prospective jurors, one need not look further than the 2011 U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit decision in United States v. Cabrera-Beltran. Three multilingual jurors were struck for cause during voir dire for not agreeing to ignore all Spanish-language evidence that would be presented at trial and adhere solely to the English-language interpretation, even if they detected errors in the interpretation. Although these jurors could have been accommodated, the court upheld the decision to strike them. In other cases, jurors with other types of expertise typically have not been asked to abandon their expertise during a trial, nor have they been subject to for-cause challenges on the basis of their skills. This Note argues that multilingual jurors should be provided appropriate accommodations for their linguistic skills, and that they, like other expert jurors, should typically not be subject to for-cause challenges because they possess particular skills.
Civil Rights and Discrimination
- Journal title
Boston College Law Review
- Date submitted
8 September 2022