You Have the Right to More Coherent Spanglish

     (CN) – A shaky translation of Miranda rights to a suspected drug manufacturer requires reversal of his guilty plea, the 9th Circuit ruled Monday.
     The federal appeals court in Pasadena released Jeronimo Botello-Rosale from his conditional plea to conspiracy to manufacture marijuana based on a detective’s failure to properly translate the word “free.”
     Before entering the guilty plea to the federal charge in Portland, Ore., Botello-Rosale moved to suppress his post-arrest statements. He claimed that, during the arrest, a detective had told him in Spanish that he had the right to a lawyer “who is free,” using the Spanish word libre to mean “free.” But libre means “available or at liberty to do something” rather than “without cost.”
     U.S. District Judge Ann Brown denied the motion and Botello-Rosale pleaded guilty. The three-judge appellate panel reversed Monday.
     “The phrasing of the warning – that a lawyer who is free could be appointed -suggests that the right to appointed counsel is contingent on the approval of a request or on the lawyer’s availability, rather than the government’s absolute obligation,” the unsigned decision states.
     The detectives also read the Miranda warnings in English, but “there is no indication in the record that the government clarified which set of warnings was correct,” the judges ruled.
     “Such an affirmatively misleading advisory does not satisfy Miranda’s strictures,” the panel added.
     The panel vacated the Botello-Rosale’s conviction and remanded the case back to Portland.

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