Non-English Speakers Can Be Jurors in New Mexico

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New Mexico's top court ruled that citizens in the heavily Hispanic state who don't speak English still have the right to serve on a jury.

The New Mexico Supreme Court cautioned  trial courts and lawyers on Monday that this is in fact a right enshrined in the state constitution to all people, even non-English speakers.

The court issued the admonition in a unanimous ruling that upholds an Albuquerque man's convictions for murder and other crimes in the 2004 bludgeoning death of his girlfriend and a subsequent armed robbery and stabbing.

Michael Anthony 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 said it agrees with that argument but also said Samora's defense needed to object during the trial but didn't.

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