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New Mexico Court Rules Non-English Speaking Citizens Can Serve On Juries

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File photo of a courtroom. (credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

File photo of a courtroom. (credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Supreme Court is cautioning trial courts and lawyers that citizens who don’t speak English have the right to serve on juries.

The court issued the admonition in a ruling that upholds an Albuquerque man’s convictions for murder and other crimes in the bludgeoning death of his girlfriend and a subsequent armed robbery and stabbing.

Michael Samora’s appeal argued that his convictions should be reversed because a Bernalillo County judge excused a Spanish-speaking prospective juror who had trouble understanding English.

The Supreme Court says it agrees with that argument but also says Samora’s defense needed to object during the trial but didn’t.

The ruling issued Monday tells judges and lawyers that they must make reasonable efforts to protect the rights of non-English speaking citizens to serve on juries.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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