Accounting for Law

Interpreter issue results in mistrial

A Brampton judge has declared a mistrial in a drug case after Toronto criminal lawyer Jordana Goldlist asked for a new trial on the grounds that there were difficulties finding an adequate Jamaican Patois interpreter, according to the Toronto Sun.

“It speaks to the heart of the accused’s right to make full answer and defence,” she tells the newspaper.

The case involves Jamaican citizens Ryan Douglas, 30, and Michael Bryan, 31. They were tried before a jury on a charge of importing cocaine after they allegedly ingested the drug before boarding a flight to Canada on April 30, 2011, says the Toronto Sun.

The article also states that their defence was they had become drug mules under duress and that they were forced to swallow the illegal substance because their families were threatened in a Montego Bay hotel room.

Goldlist represented Bryan. She tells the newspaper there were problems with the interpretation of his testimony when he took the stand. An accredited patois interpreter had been brought in to help the jury understand his Jamaican slang.

“During the first break, my client’s family approached me and said the interpreter was leaving out key words and phrases and the connections that would make the story make sense,” she says in the article.

The Sun reports that Bryan twice stopped his testimony and corrected the interpreter’s translation. Even a juror sent a note to the judge asking that he insist that she translate verbatim and stop paraphrasing, says the article.

A date hasn't yet been set for a new trial, which depends on the availability of an accredited interpreter.

“We have no information on when this might occur,” Goldlist tells The Sun.

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