Our firm represented Dias Kadyrbayev, the young college student charged with obstruction of justice in the Boston Marathon bombing case. The Government sought to introduce statements Kadyrbayev made to law enforcement after allegedly being Mirandized.  In the motion to suppress and evidentiary hearing, attorneys Robert G. Stahl and Laura K. Gasiorowski argued that as a non-native speaker of English with no prior experience with the American justice system, Dias did not comprehend his rights under Miranda.  Those rights were provided to Kadrybayev only in English, with no Kazakh or Russian translation or interpreter, despite the fact that his limited English proficiency was insufficient to understand the complicated language and syntax of the Miranda rights.

The case was a perfect example of the misconception that individuals who can maintain a rudimentary conversation in English have the proficiency required to understand complex sentences used to communicate legal rights and concepts.  In support of the motion to suppress, attorneys Stahl and Gasiorowski proffered the expert report and testimony of Aneta Pavlenko, a forensic linguist at Temple University, who explained that the level of proficiency required to understand the Miranda Rights was far above that possessed by Kadyrbayev.

Professor Pavlenko’s experience with the case and her work with our firm eventually led her to form an international working group of linguists, psychologists, lawyers and interpreters to address the significant issue of whether non-native speakers’ rights are adequately protected during police interviews. The group spent over a year drafting model guidelines for communicating Miranda rights to non-native speakers of English in the United States, England, Wales and Australia in an effort to educate law enforcement and the judiciary and protect the vulnerable population of non-native speakers who enter the criminal justice system. The Guidelines may be found on the American Association for Applied Linguistics website and a downloadable pdf is also available.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert G. Stahl are exceptionally proud of their contribution to the development of this exciting area of the law, and their suppression motion exemplifies the innovative and creative legal thinking the attorneys in this firm bring to every case.