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Hearing Impaired Seek Justice

March 25th, 2014 by flanews

Felix Garcia was convicted of murdering a man in Tampa in 1983.  Felix is deaf and the court had no interpreter to help him understand his trial. He has spent every day since behind bars – even after his brother has admitted to the murder.

“He went into court, he didn’t know what was going on, he signed things he didn’t know he was signing and the result was he was incarcerated and he’s still in jail,” said Lissette Molina Wood through an interpreter. Wood is the Florida Association of the Deaf President.

Hundreds of Floridians rallied at the Capitol seeking Justice for Felix. The majority of the group deaf and demanding legislation that would require all interpreters to be certified … legislation they say could have helped Garcia.

“It is critical that those interpreters are competent and qualified,” said Vicky Fales of the Florida Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf.

The group hopes that if the bill were to ever become a law, what happened to Felix in the 1980’s would never happen again.

“This is about information, this is about the ability for individuals to receive proper legal representation, proper healthcare, proper education,” said the bill’s sponsor Sen. Thad Altman.

Tom Linares and his family traveled from Clearwater to show support. He says his son can’t get proper treatment in hospitals because of the communication barrier

“There’s a lot of misunderstandings and miscommunications. We want bill 1125 passed and it would mean a quality of life that is so important,” said Linares as he signed through an interpreter.

Altman’s interpreter bill has been filed but has not made an agenda in any committee stop.

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