OKLAHOMA CITY – Pearl Pearson, a man facing a charge of resisting arrest after a scuffle with police, was in court Wednesday.
Pearson’s attorney, Scott Adams, had filed a motion asking the judge to allow for six interpreters to come from Texas for his trial.
Pearson is deaf and needs an interpreter in order to understand what is going on during the trial.
District Attorney David Prater did not fight the request, admitting to the judge he has never dealt with a trial for a defendant who cannot hear.
Adams suggested the special interpreters because he says Pearson does not use regular American Sign Language.
Pearson knows what is basically described as a different dialect of sign language.
Adams also told the judge six interpreters are needed because the job is “exhausting.”
Adams told the judge that after about 30 minutes, an interpreter’s translation becomes less accurate due to fatigue.
They are required to listen, sometimes to more than one person at a time, and then repeat that in sign language, while still listening to the next statements.
“This is new ground to all of us, both defense counsel and myself,” said Prater. “We want to make sure Mr. Pearson has his day in court, that he is treated fairly and appropriately like any other person.”
Pearson is charged with resisting arrest following an encounter with Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers back in January.
After a scuffle, Pearson was battered and bruised.
The troopers were cleared of any wrong doing.
Numerous members of the deaf community were present at Wednesday’s hearing.
They agree with the defense’s request for interpreters who use the sign language Pearl Pearson knows.
They also pointed out the interpreters are not just for Pearl, but for the entire courtroom.
“The interpreter is not just for the deaf people but for the hearing people as well so you can understand us. It’s a two-way street,” said Dylan White, who was at Wednesday’s hearing.
“I think it will help the deaf community in the long run for everyone to understand their daily struggles with the community, hearing people,” said Adams.
The judge did not deny the request, but did ask the defense to look for qualified interpreters who live in Oklahoma.
He also asked the defense to provide more information, either through testimony or research, which could support the claim that an interpreter is less effective after 30 minutes.
The judge says he will make a final decision once that information is provided.
The first phases of Pearson’s trial are scheduled to begin Sept. 22; however, the judge said that may change based on the availability of the interpreters who are found.