The Nevada Supreme Court held “that under both its inherent and express powers, a justice court is authorized to” appoint interpreters in small claims cases.
In 2004, Hermes Caballero was transported from an Arizona prison to Ely State Prison in Nevada. He was told his personal property would be mailed to him but he never received it because it was lost.
Caballero does not speak or understand English, so a bilingual prison law clerk helped him file a pro se small claims action in the justice court, seeking the return of his property. At a hearing, the court directed Caballero to “state your claim,” and he responded, “I need interpreter. I need…” The court cut him off, saying, “O.K. I can’t help you. This is Small Claims, I don’t give you interpreters. Civil suits. State your claim…Nothing further, Mr. Caballero?” He said, “No,” and the court dismissed the case, stating, “You may leave then, sir. Plaintiff has failed to state a claim on which a Judgment may be relieved. The court subsequently issued a written order of dismissal for failure to state a claim on which a Judgment may be relieved.” The court subsequently issued a written order of dismissal for failure to state a claim, noting in the order “that Caballero needed an interpreter but…the court does not furnish interpreters.”
On appeal, the district court affirmed, finding that Caballero was not entitled to an interpreter and the justice court lacked authority to appoint interpreters in small claims actions. The Nevada Supreme Court vacated the order, finding “that under both its inherent and express powers, a justice court” has authority to appoint interpreters. It reversed the order because the district court “did not address the justice court’s failure to determine if a volunteer interpreter was available.”
See: Caballero v. The District Court, 123 Nev. Adv. Op. No. 34 (Nev. S Ct. 9/20/07).
As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.
Already a subscriber? Login
Related legal case
Caballero v. The District Court
|Cite||123 Nev. Adv. Op. No. 34 (Nev. S Ct. 9/20/07)|
|Level||State Supreme Court|