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Luzerne County judge declines request to translate murder suspect’s legal documents to Spanish - Times Leader

Luzerne County judge declines request to translate murder suspect’s legal documents to Spanish  - Times Leader | Criminal Defense Law | Scoop.it
In this Times Leader file photo, Oscar Lozano-Garcia is led into a hearing after the completion of his extradition from Mexico to Luzerne County in 2014.
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WILKES-BARRE — A man accused of killing a Hazleton woman in 2012 and leaving her plastic-wrapped body in an attic before fleeing to Mexico wanted prosecutors to provide legal documents translated from English to Spanish.


Luzerne County’s president judge determined in an order Friday that is not the court’s responsibility.


Court papers indicate Oscar Lozano-Garcia, 37, a Mexican national, requested early in pretrial proceedings that prosecutors provide him with translated versions of all discovery materials in the case. A motion formalizing the request asked that prosecutors pay for the translation service, court papers say.


Prosecutors argued Thursday in a legal memorandum that state law places no obligation on prosecutors to translate a defendant’s discovery, only to provide it to defense counsel.


Lozano Garcia’s public defender, Mark Singer, said the defense team might have to assume the cost of a professional translation.


“The documents are voluminous, and we certainly want to make sure we are providing him with the exact words the Commonwealth is giving to us,” Singer said.


“It’s certainly his right to understand them,” he added.


Singer said his team, which consists of fellow public defenders Joel Zelkowitz and John Sobota, could possibly request a continuance should the translation not be completed in time.


The prosecutors argue in the memorandum that defense attorneys must determine if a translation is necessary and hire an expert as needed.


“It is fundamentally essential for the defense to bear the burden of researching potential experts,” the memorandum says.


Prosecutors are not required to provide experts to assist the defense in any other case, the document says, and doing so in the case of translation would leave the case vulnerable in the appeals process.


When looked at as a policy issue, requiring prosecutors to cover the cost of translation services would financially devastate the county, which has a growing Hispanic population, the document argues.


The memorandum goes on to argue that English is the “predominate” language of the United States and cites a Michigan Law Review article from June 1913. The article itself cites centuries-old English regulations providing for the use of English as the written language of the courts.


“So basically,” the memorandum says, “under English statute, ‘all… records… should be in English only,’ and absent any Pennsylvania law superseding that, this nearly 300-year-old English statute offers the only guidance.”


The document concludes that based on the principles of Anglo-American common law — which state that United States common law is the common law of England as adopted by the Constitution — the written language of the courts is English.


President Judge Richard M. Hughes III issued an order Friday after hearing argument from both sides denying the defense’s request.


“It is defense counsel’s responsibility to secure any assistance it may need in order to properly prepare a defense in the case,” the order says.


State rules of Criminal Procedure do not require the translation of discovery from English into Spanish, the order says.


Lozano-Garcia is charged in the Dec. 18, 2012, murder of 32-year-old Maria Brea.


Brea’s body was found in the attic on Dec. 18, 2012, three days after her family reported her missing when she failed to pick up her two children at school.


U.S. Marshals captured Lozano-Garcia in early 2014 in Puebla, Mexico. He was charged with an open count of criminal homicide a year earlier.


According to police, Brea’s body was wrapped in plastic and bound by duct tape. A Dollar General plastic bag was placed over her head and also bound by duct tape. A white sock, secured in place with duct tape, covered Brea’s mouth.


Reach James O’Malley at 570-991-6390 or on Twitter @TL_omalley.

Via Charles Tiayon
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Obama & Fed Allowing Same Sex Marriage in Michigan, State Won't

Obama & Fed Allowing Same Sex Marriage in Michigan, State Won't | Criminal Defense Law | Scoop.it
Despite Obama's Administration and the Fed recognizing same-sex marriages in Michigan, the state has placed a stay and appeal on the order.
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Michigan Prison Sentencing Reforms Being Considered

Michigan Prison Sentencing Reforms Being Considered | Criminal Defense Law | Scoop.it
Due to an enormous budget for the Department of Corrections, lawmakers and Governor Rick Snyder are considering making prison sentencing reforms in Michigan.
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Colorado Legalizes the First Gay Divorce

Colorado Legalizes the First Gay Divorce | Criminal Defense Law | Scoop.it
Despite prohibiting gay marriage under the state constitution, Colorado became the first state to legalize a same sex divorce on July 29th, 2013.
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Carrying a Concealed Weapon in a Motor Vehicle

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Why am I facing Carrying a Concealed Weapon charges? Recently a client came to me with a serious question; why am I being charged with Carrying a Concealed Weapon when I was sitting in my car and my gun was on my hip, in its holster? It’s a completely reasonable question.  The client was sitting(...)
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Detroit Gay Rights Attorney to Speak on Panel in Honor of Constitution Day

Detroit Gay Rights Attorney to Speak on Panel in Honor of Constitution Day | Criminal Defense Law | Scoop.it
In honor of Constitution Day, the Thomas M. Cooley Law School’s Ann Arbor campus is looking to get people talking. On Friday, September 20th, the school will host an interactive panel discussion entitled, “Finding Michigan’s Invisible People.” The featured topic will be the pending DeBoer v. Snyder case, represented by the Michigan gay rights attorneys(...)
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Changes to Second Parent Adoptions in Michigan Could Be Coming

Changes to Second Parent Adoptions in Michigan Could Be Coming | Criminal Defense Law | Scoop.it
The last year has brought great changes to marriage law both in Michigan and across the United States. As the LGBT community inches closer to equal marriage rights, plenty of related questions are also raised; what do same-sex couples do when it comes to adopting children? Can both persons in a homosexual relationship adopt children(...)
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Hiring a Lawyer in Michigan Requires Planning & Research

Hiring a Lawyer in Michigan Requires Planning & Research | Criminal Defense Law | Scoop.it
When faced with family litigation or criminal charges, make sure you ask these questions to your attorney. Call Nessel & Kessel Now. (313) 556-2300.
Nessel and Kessel Law's insight:
Finding the right lawyer is a challenge and can have significant ramifications for your life. Here are a few ways to prepare.
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Same-Sex Couples in Oakland County MI File Adoption Applications

Same-Sex Couples in Oakland County MI File Adoption Applications | Criminal Defense Law | Scoop.it
Following the landmark ruling that deemed Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, couples who were married on Saturday file for adoption.
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Anti-Meth Law Hopes to Curb Criminal Activity in Southwest Michigan

Anti-Meth Law Hopes to Curb Criminal Activity in Southwest Michigan | Criminal Defense Law | Scoop.it
The newly implemented anti-meth laws in Michigan have given way to a new type of criminal: "smurfs" who buy Sudafed containing pseudoephedrine to sell to dealers.
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Juvenile Lifers in Michigan: Proposed Changes to Unconstitutional State Law to be Discussed at Scheduled Joint Hearing

Juvenile Lifers in Michigan: Proposed Changes to Unconstitutional State Law to be Discussed at Scheduled Joint Hearing | Criminal Defense Law | Scoop.it
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Upcoming Fundraiser to Support Couple’s Challenge to Michigan Same Sex Marriage Ban

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The Michigan Marriage Challenge is pleased to host a fundraiser in support of the Legal Defense Fund for Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer. April and Jayne are fighting to protect their family by overturning Michigan’s Constitutional Marriage Amendment, approved by voters in 2004, which prohibits gays and lesbians from a legal marriage as well as(...)
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Marijuana Defense No More – Colorado Legalizes Pot

Marijuana Defense No More – Colorado Legalizes Pot | Criminal Defense Law | Scoop.it
Non-medical Marijuana Sold in Colorado Marijuana defense attorneys in Colorado lose sleep, and revenue, as Colorado becomes the first state to legalize the recreational purchase and use of marijuana.  The law was passed earlier in 2013, but was put into effect on New Year’s Day.  Literally thousands of people from across the country travelled to Denver, Colorado(...)
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Michigan Makes Changes to the Adoption Tax Credit

Michigan Makes Changes to the Adoption Tax Credit | Criminal Defense Law | Scoop.it
It goes without saying that parenting is a really tough job, regardless of whether one is handling it solo, in a heterosexual relationship, or part of a same sex couple. Not only is the care and protection of children a big enough task, there are plenty of financial questions that come into play as well.(...)
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