State in the Interest of A.W.

On December 5, 2011 the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey submitted an amicus brief on behalf of juvenile defendant A.W.’s appeal to reverse an earlier guilty verdict because he and his father were not properly informed of his rights when he was interrogated. The ACLU-NJ brief argued that the bilingual defendant, whose primary language is English, and his bilingual father, whose primary language is Spanish, were not accorded sufficient information in both languages to protect A.W.’s rights. The brief identified unconstitutional problems -- including that A.W. was unable to understand the poorly translated Miranda warning given to him in Spanish and the detective’s use of English and Spanish at different points in the interrogation, without translation – that diminished the ability of the father to protect the rights of his teenage child. The ACLU-NJ maintained that the court made a mistake in allowing the transcripts of the conversation between the detective and the defendant to be used in court. In the Fall of 2012 the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that A.W's confession was admissible.

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