Esteves v. Esteves

680 A.2d 398 (D.C. 1996)



An interpreter may be appointed for a "communication-impaired person." D.C. Code Ann. § 31-2701 (1993). The statute defines a "communication-impaired person" as a person whose hearing is impaired or who does not speak English. D.C. Code Ann. § 31-2701(2). A "non-English speaking person" is defined as one who is unable to readily understand oral and written communications in the English language or who cannot communicate effectively in the spoken English language.


Parents and son owned a house together and parents lived in the house for 18 years, paying the mortgage and upkeep, but no rent to son for their occupancy. The parties sold the house and parents brought an action for the equitable division of the proceeds of the house.


Is it a violation of due process if the court was not able to provide for an interpreter and had no knowledge that the wife had difficulty communicating?




The trial court did not violate the wife's due process rights by failing to request if she needed an interpreter, as her command of the language did not give any reason for an inquiry regarding her ability to communicate. Sanctions were appropriate for discovery violations, but the trial court focused on the wife's failure to prove fraud rather than her pre-filing conduct in imposing sanctions for filing a frivolous pleading. The trial court also failed to explain why either sanction award was imposed solely against the wife.

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