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Juries Could Include Those Who Don't Speak English

Thu, 08 May 2014 10:46:04 CDT

Illinois jury boxes could soon be open to people who don't speak English. Illinois lawmakers are considering letting jurors participate with the assistance of translators. A signifcant number of people in Illinois speak primarily in a language other than English. Spanish and Polish are common in the Chicago area. Retired Cook County judge Dan Locallo says opening jury service to such people fulfills the ideal of letting defendants be tried by their peers:

"We always say that an individual should be tried by his or her peers. I think we're adding to that mix of individuals."

Locallo says he had a non-English speaking juror in a trial once, with the translator in a different part of the courtroom, communicating through an earpiece.   The Illinois Senate approved the legislation 57-0. It would create a pilot program for the translators in five Chicagoland counties: Cook, Lake, DuPage, Kane and Will. The measure now goes to the Illinois House.

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