Incompetent and corrupt interpreters increasingly
undermine the integrity of the legal system. This is a growing problem
in California and I was pleased to see you give it some attention in
your April issue.
In San Francisco, where I practice, there is a
growing cottage industry of interpreters who take certain immigration
cases on a partial contingency basis. It is widely known in immigrant
communities that these folks will ensure that their customers answer
questions "correctly." All the more frightening is that nobody
ever notices. These corrupt interpreters know how to play the system
and they produce many a happy client.
Each time interpreters pull such stealth scams,
the legal system takes another body blow.
Kudos on the interpreters
I thought your article entitled "Dearth of
Qualified Interpreters Raises Courtroom Language Barrier" was
terrific. You nailed it!
California's "three strikes" law offends my
sensibilities because its terms are unfaithful to the rules of
With both the law and the game rules, the basic
concept is "three strikes and you're out." But in baseball, only
the most serious of strikes can count as third strikes. Less serious
strikes, such as foul balls out of play, can only count as first or
second strikes. Despite having been sold to voters and constituents as
akin to baseball, our state's criminal law gets this backwards.
Voter and legislative intent was probably
inconsistent with the deceptively labeled, now codified, law. I do not
know if this point has been argued in a sentencing appeal. At any
rate, it's a pitch that ought to connect with the legislature.
David A. Holtzman
The gift of golf
Something is seriously wrong with our legal
system when a former deputy district attorney convicted of grand theft
is "ordered" to play golf with underprivileged children for 350
hours in lieu of jail time (case of James Longanbach, March issue).
That's not "creative" sentencing, it's a gift. No wonder
lawyers and the law are in such disrepute.
It's the cost, stupid
The debate over whether to change the bar exam to
a two-day format is mired in typical obfuscation of the true issues.
The so-called "dumbing down" argument against simplifying the exam
format is misleading and intellectually dishonest.
One rarely hears, and certainly no one has ever
proved, that passing a bar exam correlates very well with intelligence
in the first instance.
Passing a bar exam, any bar exam, costs money,
and provided all takers are possessed of at least rudimentary
intellect, the ones that spend the most are the most likely to pass.
Law school admission, preparation, tuition, books, fees, bar review
and not working while preparing for and taking the bar exam add up.
A two-day format does not threaten to make the
bar exam easier - it could not be much more monotonous than it
already is. A shorter format threatens to make the exam cheaper.
Why would anyone be against that?
Richard J. Crema
Practice what you preach
Bill Lockyer's editorial (February 2002)
chastising Bill Gates for unfair competition and monopoly is ironic
coming from a representative of a government that insists on
monopolies in education, postal service, legal delivery, energy, and
union and labor laws that financially destroyed this state and
strangled Constitutional freedoms.
His vague and arrogant editorial did not allege
one instance of specific illegal wrongdoing, but perhaps that is
because antitrust and antimonopoly laws are written in such a vague,
non-specific way that any politician wanting to attack a business may
freely do so. Nor has he indicated even one instance of coercion. Can
the government make the same claim for itself when enforcing its
If, as Lockyer says in his article, free markets
should decide the fate of emerging technologies, he may consider
enforcing that philosophy in California to remove the government
monopoly of rules, regulations and taxation that drive out businesses
and destroy free competition.
As Onkar Ghate recently wrote in a column
sponsored by The Ayn Rand Institute, "The only monopolies that can
in fact exist are government-created ones. Only a government can
prevent someone from entering a market and thus eliminate
I look forward to the day when the government
applies antitrust and antimonopoly laws to itself.