Deaf Man Was Entitled to Interpreter, Court Says

     (CN) – A Wisconsin circuit court wrongfully denied a deaf man’s request for an interpreter at a motion hearing, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals ruled.




     Dean Kedinger requested a sign language interpreter at a hearing leading up to his civil trial on a trespassing claim. The court denied his request, so Kedinger did not attend the hearing. He blasted the court as being “too cheap to pay for an interpreter” and accused the court of “dishonest knavery and skullduggery.”
     At the motion hearing, the judge ruled in favor of Kedinger’s opponent, Terry Strook. The judge said Kedinger had the duty to appear in court and demonstrate his disability to the court’s satisfaction.
     When Kedinger attended the actual trial, an interpreter was present. But Kedinger was unable to present his case due to his defeat in the pre-trial hearing.
     On appeal, Kedinger claimed he was prejudiced by his lack of an interpreter at the hearing. Judge Brown agreed.
     “The Americans with Disabilities Act – even at the time of the hearing – required an interpreter when one was necessary,” Brown wrote.
Brown explained that when Kedinger requested an interpreter, the court was required either to grant him one or to hold a hearing on his need for one.
     “Since there is no record showing that a hearing to determine a need for an interpreter was on the docket,” Brown ruled, “we must reverse on that ground alone.”

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