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Name: People v. Augustin
Case #: G030166
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 10/02/2003
Subsequent History: None
Summary

Does a speech disability render the victim incapable of communicating her testimony and should she have been disqualified as a witness? Appellant was convicted of assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury. The victim of the assault, the main prosecution witness, suffered from cerebral palsy and had a related speech disability. The appellate court rejected the argument, finding that although the victim was difficult to understand, the testimony taken as a whole was coherent. A witness who is difficult to understand is not incompetent under section 701. Nor did the trial court err by allowing the prosecutor to ask leading questions. The use of leading questions allowed the victim to communicate her testimony efficiently and effectively, and was not an abuse of discretion. Further, it was not error for the trial court not to have appointed an interpreter. Since the court found that the victim was capable of expressing herself directly, section 701 did not require that she communicate through an interpreter. There was also no violation of appellant’s constitutional rights to confrontation because his cross-examination of the victim was ineffective. Appellant was provided with the opportunity to cross-examine, which is all that is required.