1999 conviction thrown out over translator errors

WLFI File Photo
WLFI File Photo

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Supreme Court has thrown out the cocaine dealing conviction of a man imprisoned for 15 years because of mistakes made by a Spanish translator.

The court’s 5-0 ruling issued Thursday found that Victor Ponce wasn’t properly told about his rights when he pleaded guilty to the Elkhart County drug charges in 1999. He’s currently serving a 40-year sentence.

The Times of Munster reports the court ruled providing inadequate translations to defendants who don’t speak English well is an injustice that harms the legal system’s integrity.

Since 2003, the Indiana Supreme Court has overseen a program that certifies and sets ethical standards for courtroom translators. Certified translators in 22 languages are now available.

The ruling sends Ponce’s case back to the Elkhart County courts for review.

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