Prosecutors Seek Appeal in Rape Case Dropped for Language Barrier
After a Montgomery County judge in Maryland dropped nine counts of rape, sex abuse, and child abuse against a man because the court was unable to find a translator, prosecutors have announced that they will seek an appeal. Mahamu Kanneh, a Liberian immigrant, was accused of raping and repeatedly molesting a 7-year-old girl and was set to go on trial early next week. Circuit Court Judge Katherine Savage, however, found that the difficulties the court experienced over the past three years trying to find a translator who speaks the West African language Vai -- a language spoken by only some 100,000 people in the world -- were interfering with Kanneh's right to a speedy trial. Over Kanneh's span in the Maryland legal system, three interpreters participated, but all left due to various reasons.
Prosecutors in the case have decided to pursue an appeal in the state Court of Special Appeals. In addition to the successful location of three interpreters, plus a fourth who was present during the judge's dismissal of the case, prosecutors allege that Kanneh does not even need a translator and is requesting one to delay the trial's process. According to the Maryland Gazette, Kanneh graduated from an English-speaking high school and attended community college in Maryland.
One Maryland delegate, Patrick L. McDonough, has moved to take action against the judge who dismissed the case, saying, "We have created an attitude that no matter how important and grievous a crime is, that a technicality takes precedence over the rights of the victim," the Washington Times reports.
This case follows on the heels of another bungled rape case in Nebraska, where a District Judge declared a mistrial after banning certain words, including "rape" and "sexual assault," from his courtroom.
Media Resources: Maryland Gazette 7/25/07; Washington Times 7/26/07; ABC 7/25/07; Washington Post 6/22/07; AP 7/07
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .