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In Henzdndez v. New York,' the Supreme Court held that prosecutors
may strike potential jurors from the venire on the basis of their ability to
speak a language other than English. Courts have consistently treated biand
multilingualism as reasonable grounds for excluding individuals
from participation in an institution long considered to be a fundamental
site of civic engagement. Courts seem to fear that bilingual jurors will
disrupt jury deliberations that are carefully cabined by legal procedures,
which include court-sponsored translations of foreign-language testimony.
The Henzdndez Court, despite its deference to the prosecutors,
complicated the issue in its plurality opinion by highlighting the centrality
of language to individual personality and the interpretation of meaning.
Date of Authorship for this Version
courts, English, language rights