Friday, December 01, 2006

Felons Behaving Badly, Part 3: State v. Afo-odjebiti

In State v. Afo-odjebiti, No. 05-1128 (Iowa Ct. App. November 30, 2006), a foreign born defendant was convicted of theft in the first and second degree in a check kiting scheme. The defendant opened checking accounts at several Davenport credit unions with small deposits. He then deposited checks and withdrew large sums. The checks he deposited were bogus, of course, and the defendant was convicted.

The defendant, a native of Togo, filed a motion requesting an interpreter in the Ewe language, stating he understood English but had an accent that made his words difficult to understand. The state resisted the motion and the district court found that the defendant's language skills in English were sufficient to proceed to trial without an interpreter.

Evidence adduced at the hearing substantiated that the defendant could read documents in English, file pro se legal documents in English, communicate with the employees of the credit unions he defrauded, and was videotaped at the police station speaking and understanding English.

Further, the court found that the defendant had deliberately thwarted attempts to obtain a Ewe speaking interpreter, and although fluent in French, refused to acknowledge a French speaking interpreter sent to the jail.

The defendant also argued that he was denied his right to contact consular authorities pursuant to Article 36 of the Vienna Convention. However, he had been informed of his right to do so, discussed the matter with his attorney, and made no indication that he wished to pursue the matter. The court of appeals determined the defendant had waived error in this matter.


Post a Comment

<< Home