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Basic Legal Issues in Handling the Cases of Deaf Defendants
By McCay Vernon; Jean Andrews
Deaf clients represent a small minority of defendants in criminal cases.
Thus, attorneys and judges often have little knowledge of the unique
legal problems deaf1 individuals pose when involved with the criminal
justice system. Nor are attorneys and judges always aware of the
specific laws written to assure deaf defendants equal treatment in court
and other legal settings.2
For these defendants, this often means cases involving them are lost
when they could have been won. As a result, deaf individuals frequently
go to jail or prison or suffer other serious injustices. These
injustices include not obtaining the services and care provided to
hearing inmates — to which the deaf inmates are entitled under the
American with Disabilities Act.3
In addition, because deafness is invisible, it is usually not considered
an important disability. This attitude is characterized by the
following statement: “The only problem deaf folks have is that they
can’t hear music
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