Syracuse, NY -- A Syracuse court interpreter acquitted of leaking grand jury secrets in a blockbuster case is suing the district attorney and area's top judge for banning her from Onondaga County criminal work.
Spanish language interpreter Nancy Rodriguez-Walker was found not guilty of leaking grand jury secrets in a murderous drug ring to crooked lawyer Ezequiel Neuman, who was later forced to leave the country.
Her acquittal was one of the last victories for longtime Syracuse lawyer James McGraw, who died of a heart attack five months later on his way to court.
But despite her vindication after an August 2013 trial, Rodriguez-Walker claims the area's top judge, Fifth Judicial District Administrative Judge James Tormey, and the Onondaga County District Attorney, William Fitzpatrick, still tried to destroy her livelihood.
Her ban from doing local criminal cases -- effectively any case handled by Fitzpatrick's office -- prevents her from making a living and was enacted in retaliation for crimes she was found not to have committed, her lawsuit claims. It has resulted in a "significant loss of income" and forced her to drive long distances for work in surrounding counties, she said.
"The actions of Defendants were intentionally malicious and retaliatory, and designed to ruin Plaintiff's career," her lawsuit states.
She claims that the longstanding relationship between Fitzpatrick and Tormey -- they were law school roommates, the lawsuit says -- contributed to their actions against her.
None of the people named in the lawsuit -- Rodriguez-Walker, Fitzpatrick, Tormey or local judicial administrator Michael Klein -- wanted to comment.
Why the ban?
But Rodriguez-Walker's 33-page complaint also provides a glimpse into the rationale for excluding her from criminal cases, despite her exoneration. These arguments were made in a letter from court administrator Klein, according to the lawsuit:
• A court system Inspector General's report found that "Ms. Walker failed to adhere to professional standards" in her association with a lawyer.
That's clearly a reference to the crooked lawyer, Neuman, though the exact relationship is not specified. At trial, Rodriguez-Walker first said she never gave Neuman a ride in her car, but recanted after investigators said court cameras could capture her whereabouts. She was acquitted of leaking secret information to him.
• Walker's work in Onondaga County would create "at the very least an appearance of impropriety" given the fact the DA's office had prosecuted her (regardless of the outcome). There was also a "continuing lack of confidence" in her work on local criminal cases.
Here, the court system is arguing that Rodriguez-Walker should not work on cases that involved the same DA's office that had prosecuted her. However, Rodriguez-Walker's lawsuit disputes the "continuing lack of confidence" in her, noting that she's allowed to work on local civil cases and criminal cases elsewhere.
• Walker is expected to find just as much work elsewhere.
Tormey requested that Rodriguez-Walker receive "an equitable share" of cases elsewhere "so as not to result in an undue reduction of the work assigned to her," according to the letter quoted in the lawsuit. But the lawsuit claims that the ban has cost Rodriguez-Walker a significant amount of work.
Long delay in getting job back
In addition to the ban, Rodriguez-Walker accuses the judge and DA of trying other ways to ruin her career. For example, she accused Fitzpatrick and Tormey of asking the Inspector General to investigate her. She never received the outcome of that investigation, she said.
And her lawsuit describes a long delay in getting her back on a list of certified court interpreters. She claims that Tormey e-mailed judges in the local courts telling them not to assign her cases.
In July 2014, nearly a year after her acquittal, a court official confirmed that she had been reinstated as a Spanish interpreter without any restrictions, her lawsuit states. But that's when Tormey and Klein decided to ban her from criminal cases in Onondaga County in an Aug. 8, 2014 letter, the lawsuit states.
Court interpreters like Rodriguez-Walker are considered contracted employees, paid at $140 per morning of work, $110 per afternoon, or $250 per day, her lawsuit states. The ban has reduced her workload from four to five days a week down to one or two-and-a-half days, mostly in Oneida County, she says.
A blockbuster case
Rodriguez-Walker's acquittal was one piece of a complex murder case that nabbed the lawyer, Neuman, and sent Syracuse woman Iris Resto and her son to prison for a murderous cocaine ring.
Resto is serving a life sentence after being convicted of ordering three other men to murder a rival drug dealer. Those men are also facing long prison sentences. And her son is, too.
In addition to facing state charges, Resto also faced federal drug charges as "boss lady" of a $1 million cocaine ring.
Resto's the one who convinced Neuman to try to bribe a witness in a failed cover-up attempt. Neuman then accused Walker of leaking him secrets from grand jury testimony.
Investigators testified at Rodriguez-Walker's trial that Neuman could have only known secrets he did with Walker's help. But Walker's lawyer, McGraw, painted Neuman as a womanizer who couldn't be trusted because he promised to testify against others to avoid jail time. He also disputed that Neuman could have only known those secrets with Rodriguez-Walker's help.
"Nancy was totally innocent and the key witness was this low-life lawyer, who gives a bad name to all lawyers," McGraw said after the 2013 verdict. "We felt from the beginning that the judge would recognize that."
But Rodriguez-Walker suggested at the time that the damage had already been done.
"This has ruined my reputation, my career," she said after being acquitted. "But in my 21 years working here, I learned not to admit something if you didn't do it."
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Informal formative assessment practices can assist daily, to solicit input and provide feedback to students. These practices can be used to adjust instruction in a timely fashion in order to best meet the needs of students in your classroom.
When companies expand into new markets, the decision whether to translate their product interface, support literature or marketing depends on a complex mix of factors. But ultimately it boils down to a simple question: does translation present an opportunity or a cost? It can be both, of course, and therein lies the rub. Too often, companies focus on cost without considering the revenue potential of translation.
As revealed to us during presentations at Localisation World 2014, North American companies approach localisation very differently from South African and UK ones - operating on the assumption that translation is a requirement for overseas success, rather than waiting for success before investing in translation.
In our view, even risk-averse companies should be guided by a proper return on investment (ROI) calculation, informed by the experiences of others. Waiting for actual returns before making the investment is guaranteed not to be as successful as it can be.
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Pick your scenario
Ahead are some of the many scenarios companies work through when making their decisions. Every situation is unique, but perhaps you recognise elements of yours in some of them and are able to take some inspiration out of our observations.
I'm online, I'm global
Companies that embark on territorial expansion generally accept the need to translate without much protest. Fewer acknowledge the fact that being online is in itself enough to necessitate translation. Some 80% of AccuWeather's hits are outside the US, hence its decision to translate into 56 languages.
Then there's the inherent global nature of software, thanks to the evolution of software distribution methods (cloud-based, app-centric or direct downloads). This, too, necessitates translation, but there's a lingering sense of denial when it comes to buying translation.
Can we fix MT?
Even when companies acknowledge the need for translation, they sometimes don't see the point of paying for it - a classic example of the lack of vision that accompanies viewing translation as a cost.
Online/machine translation is only acceptable in situations where quality is not critical, such as content for personal use, user-generated content (e.g. Amazon reviews) and online inventory listings (e.g. eBay). Regular organisational content generally requires the quality and complexity management of human or computer-aided translation.
Some translation buyers do in fact appreciate the need for human translation, but think it's possible to let MT do the legwork to cut costs. But MT can botch translations in many ways. Software localisation, for example, is extremely complex, requiring specialist software engineering skills, project management and process automation.
Two happenings at the recent Localisation World illustrated the tide against MT. One delegation announced software that deliberately injects errors into MT outcomes as a way of detecting and stopping LSPs from passing such translations willy-nilly.
A keynote from Google further revealed that the Web giant doesn't use its own Google Translate engine to translate software, acknowledging that Google translation is a general purpose tool that is insufficiently calibrated to handle software complexities. Google Translate moreover uses a statistical engine that relies on a large body of terms in the bank to reliably translate into a language. Hence French will come out well in non-software projects, but isiXhosa won't.
Don't call it translation
Nike sells in multiple territories, but marketing is done locally, making theirs an odd case of local-language marketing without translation.
Either way, it is not advisable to reverse the decision to market in a local language. To attain cost efficiencies, a multinational could easily decide to convert its marketing model to a centralised approach, but once a market has tasted an offering in its local language, withdrawing it seems hard to pull off.
Does my industry translate?
Are some industries just more likely to use translation? In our view, translation is not easily linked to certain industries and not others. Certainly any industry that touches consumers (e.g. e-commerce) is a good candidate, but a list of the world's top 100 LSPs highlights the dangers of an industry-based approach.
One defence-focused LSP had a dramatic dip in fortunes in its translation business around the time of the US's withdrawal of troops from the Middle East between June 2009 and December 2011, indicating the folly of depending too much on one client.
Am I being nudged?
The reason for a defence client featuring prominently on an LSP's client list may be a regulatory issue. In that vein, it is commonly accepted that any company setting up operations in Spain or France may be required to translate documentation.
The South African Constitution enshrines the right to home language education. In practice, this is more complicated. Textbook publishers commissioning multiple translations face significant additional translation cost and complexity, not to mention the cost of producing multiple SKUs.
Does it require specialisation?
Translators are often required to undertake a degree of specialisation in order to meet a client's needs. Translating medical manuals doesn't merely require French-speaking translators but ones with medical domain expertise.
Translating into uniquely South African languages are specialisations in and of themselves, and not very lucrative ones at that for the client or LSP, considering the economies of catering to an Afrikaans audience.
The bottom line is the increased cost of specialisation, and choosing horses for courses.
It's a marketing issue
Translation should not fixate on cost but on an ROI calculation. Even if it doesn't fulfil a need, it can create a market, but then scale becomes an important consideration. Mozilla puts huge effort into creating and maintaining communities of local language translation volunteers - not to save money, but to stimulate engagement with their products.
The ability to see translation as an opportunity requires a fundamentally different approach, an acceptance that it is a marketing concern. With any international expansion, advertising and infrastructural expenses are accepted as part of the necessary costs of doing business.
So should translation, when circumstances warrant it.
The third photo is of an elementary classroom that is chock-full of materials and children working on different activities with adults sitting on the rug and chair working with individual pupils. And the final photo is one of ...
Differentiated instruction is not a single strategy or formula. It is a way of thinking about the diversity of learners in our classrooms and acting on this knowledge throughout the process of planning, implementing, and evaluating so that we can promote the deepest possible understanding for all students.
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