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Letters to the Editor

Kelso’s reasoning faulty

Professor Kelso’s objections to several recent California Supreme Court opinions are obviously sincere, but reflect more an objection to the illogical outcomes than to the court’s legal reasoning.

Professor Kelso’s repeated reliance on “common sense” to support his objections is clearly out of bounds. Juries are allowed within limits to reach a verdict on the basis of their untrained and undisciplined “common sense.” Indeed, juries often apply their own beliefs and prejudices with disastrous results … as seen in the infamous People v. O.J. Simpson verdict. In contrast, judges are not supposed to be governed by “common sense” or any similarly nebulous and undisciplined tools.

We can see the results of judges using their personal prejudices and personal senses of what is right in three recent U.S. Supreme Court cases: Citizens United holding that bribery is speech; Town of Greece holding that mandatory, government-organized Christian prayers at public hearings is not an establishment of religion; and Hobby Lobby exempting corporations from compliance with the law because, after all, “corporations are only human.” All three of these decisions were reached by five judges who allowed their religious and neo-con beliefs to guide them in writing what are clearly long-chain molecules of illogical nonsense.

A closer examination of the CSC cases that were autopsied by Professor Kelso using the blunt instrument of common sense reveals that, while the decisions may lack logic, they are in fact supported by the law.

James Luce
Peralada, Spain

ADA requires interpreters for deaf

I have met several consumers who have encountered lawyers who refuse to provide an interpreter in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA clearly states that law offices, as places of public accommodation, must furnish auxiliary aid. For example, interpreters must be qualified to interpret and the cost should not be passed on to clients. Nor are lawyers allowed to encourage or force their clients to bring their own “personal” interpreter.

There is no question that the ADA clearly outlines the responsibility of lawyers to ensure effective communication between lawyers and deaf or hard-of-hearing clients. These clients are seeking to get detailed, often technical information that can affect their legal rights. Lawyers need to consult with a deaf or hard-of-hearing  client to determine what type of auxiliary aid is needed to ensure effective communication. Many deaf or hard-of-hearing clients have complained about lack of equal communication access and say they could not make an informed decision.

The lawyer must pay for the sign language interpreter unless the lawyer can prove that it would be an undue burden in light of all of the resources available to the lawyer, including tax credits and tax deductions. “Undue burden” is a fairly tough standard, though, in that it isn’t enough for a business or any entity to simply say, “That costs more than I want to spend,” or “I don’t have that kind of money in the budget.” A court will look not only at the bottom line of an entity’s balance sheet, but also at the expenditures. In terms of providing a sign language interpreter, the lawyer cannot pass the cost to the individual client.

Hal Suddreth
Tri-County Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness


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