Case against deaf man accused of resisting arrest dismissed
OKLAHOMA CITY – The case against an Oklahoma man who is accused of resisting arrest has been dismissed due to the expected expenses related to the trial.
In January of 2014, Pearl Pearson was arrested by Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers after they were responding to a hit-and-run call.
A driver in Moore told troopers that a vehicle matching Pearson’s backed into him at a red light. Although the accident was minor, the driver fled the scene.
When troopers pulled Pearson over, they saw him make a sudden movement toward his car door, which made them suspicious of a weapon.
Troopers yelled at Pearson to put his hands out the window, not knowing that he is deaf.
Pearson and the troopers got into a scuffle when authorities said Pearson wouldn’t allow troopers to handcuff him.
Following an investigation, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said that the troopers showed “a great deal of restraint” and they were cleared of any wrongdoing.
“They had enough sense about them and showed enough restraint to where they did what they thought they needed to do and nothing more.” Prater said.
Pearson was charged with resisting arrest.
Following his arrest, Pearson’s attorney, Scott Adams, filed a motion to ask the judge to allow for six interpreters to come to Oklahoma for his trial.
Court documents show that Pearson is not fluent in American Sign Language because his education took place in segregated schools.
“These inferior segregated schools did not teach Mr. Pearson ASL, but a very limited, abridged type of sign language that is not the equivalent of ASL. Mr. Pearson was taught ASL in his later years, but his command of ASL is rudimentary and not ‘fluent,” the documents state.
Because of that language barrier, Adams said that Pearson would need a Certified Deaf Interpreter. Those interpreters are deaf and would also need an interpreter.
In all, Adams asked for six interpreters because the job is “exhausting,” adding that the translation becomes less accurate as the trial goes on due to fatigue.
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.
“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.”
Oklahoma law states that interpreters must be impartial and have no relationship with either party in the case.
However, Adams said that all of the certified courtroom interpreters in Oklahoma already knew Pearson and his family because of his involvement with the deaf community. Due to that, Adams asked that the interpreters come from another state.
Court documents show that the prosecution waived any objection to interpreters that may have a personal relationship with Pearson, and the court found that three interpreters would be required for the trial.
Each interpreter would be paid $60 per hour, not to exceed $600 per day, plus mileage and related expenses.
Earlier this month, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater moved to dismiss the case against Pearson due to the costs of those interpreters.
“The estimated cost to prosecute this matter is expected to be very high. It is not possible to estimate exactly how costly the trial would be, but a reasonable estimate of costs approaches $40,000,” the court records state. “It is the District Attorney’s responsibility to be a good steward of the taxpayer’s money. Though it is important to prosecute matters to promote public safety and assure that the State of Oklahoma’s laws are enforced, the financial burden placed on the State to prosecute a matter is a legitimate consideration; especially as in this case, the matter is a misdemeanor.”
The court agreed, saying that it was in the public’s best interest to dismiss the case.