Case 6:09-cr-10005-MLB -DWB Document 233

Filed 12/16/10 Page 1 of 2



December 16, 2010 ALL COUNSEL OF RECORD Re: United States v. Kobagaya, Case No. 09-10005-01 Dear Counsel:

111 U.S. Courthouse 401 N. Market Wichita, Kansas 67202

(316) 315-4340

I have discussed the events of Tuesday morning with Judge Bostwick and Jamie Haig. Upon reflection, I believe my decision to adjourn the status hearing was premature. Had I spoken with the interpreter, I believe the hearing could have gone forward to a satisfactory conclusion. Nevertheless, what occurred provided a valuable “heads-up” to a possible problem, the solution to which this letter addresses. All of us recognize the importance of providing the court, the jury, counsel and defendant with the services of qualified interpreters. Defendant’s language, apparently Kinyarwanda, is uncommon in Wichita, to say the least. It may be that the language has more than one dialect. I don’t know. What I do know, however, is that there are not a lot of Kinyarwanda interpreters available, especially ones who are willing to travel to Africa for depositions and to Wichita for a long trial. Jamie has spent hours and hours working with the Administrative Office and other sources to obtain a qualified interpreter or interpreters. The interpreter who appeared on Tuesday, Mr. Niyitegyeka, is experienced and is considered “professionally qualified” by the Administrative Office. Ms. Morgan reported that defendant’s son told her that Mr. Niyitegyeka was not accurately interpreting Ms. Morgan’s statements to defendant. Whether or not the son’s comments were true, accurate or objective (and I’m not suggesting any wrongful conduct on his part at this point), neither Ms. Morgan nor I nor anyone else has, or will ever have, the ability to verify the accuracy of any interpreter’s translations. We must rely on the skill and integrity of the interpreter. Here’s how we’re going to proceed: If counsel can agree on a full set of interpreters who will commit to be available for the depositions and trial, that will be acceptable. Mr. Niyitegyeka is available and must be given very serious consideration. Defendant’s family members are not to be involved in this process. If no agreement can be reached, I will assign Mr. Niyitegyeka to interpret for the court, which means he will be speaking to the jury, both through the deposition process and at trial. If a second interpreter is required to spell Mr. Niyitegyeka, I will select that person with Jamie’s assistance.

Case 6:09-cr-10005-MLB -DWB Document 233 December 16, 2010 Page Two

Filed 12/16/10 Page 2 of 2

Furthermore, no family member will be permitted to participate in the depositions or at trial in some variation of an interpreter. Defendant is an adult and is a citizen. I will not permit interference by his family members, even well-intentioned interference, in any further court proceedings because there is no way for me to make family members responsible to the judicial process or to insure their objectivity. Family members may be present at depositions, but they will not be permitted to sit with defendant, any more than they would be permitted to do so at trial. Stated another way, I expect the depositions to conform, as closely as possible, to trial testimony. Finally the location for any telephone or video hook-up for defendant will be “neutral,” i.e., not at his son’s home. In all probability, it will be at the federal courthouse in Topeka. You may have until January 7, 2011 to agree upon interpreters. I will not direct Jamie to reinstitute her efforts to retain another interpreter at this time. The process was difficult and time consuming, not to mention enormously expensive to the taxpayers to secure the necessary interpreters’ services for the remainder of this case. Very truly yours, s/ Monti Belot Monti L. Belot MLB/sw cc: Magistrate Judge Donald W. Bostwick Jamie Haig, Clerk’s Office Division Manager Hassan Niyitegyeka, Interpreter

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