Spinning the Law is a regular segment on Newsmax TV’s Steve Malzberg Show. Kendall Coffey is interviewed by Steve Malzberg on a Supreme Court ruling on language barriers in the court room and mandatory drug sentences. Kendall Coffey does not believe that people who have trouble grasping the English language should be considered fit to stand trial, as it compromises a defendant’s right to a fair process. Kendall Coffey also takes time to defend mandatory drug sentences, as drug use and crime have consistently strong correlations.
Recently the New Mexico State Supreme Court ruled that dismissing citizens from the jury based language barriers is unconstitutional. This was based on an appeal made by a convicted murderer. The judge did not rule definitively on the subject, however, and most likely this will not widely effect cases in the future. Generally, both sides of counsel want members of the jury to have firm understanding of the proceedings, which requires strong skills in English.
Eric Holder said this week that he is instructing federal prosecutors to no longer pursue mandatory drug sentencing for violations. Federal prosecutors have discretion already in which cases to try, but the direction Holder is going is to move away from putting people in prison for minor drug offenses. Coffey says that it’s important to remember that drug use is highly associated with other crimes. Breaking the law should have consequences in order to assure that crime rates stay low. While sometimes drug enforcement can be considered too harsh, past statistics show that diligence and punishment in drug enforcement have had a positive effect on society overall.