Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Judge puts off English test for Mexican mother

KnoxNews.com reports that Wilson County Judge Barry Tatum relented yesterday when Felipa Berrera of Mexico appeared before him to regain the custody of her 11-year-old daughter. Tatum had previously indicated that Berrera would have to demonstrate proficiency in English at this hearing or risk losing her daughter.

"A juvenile court judge who ordered a Mexican immigrant mother to improve her English or face losing custody of her 11-year-old daughter did not require the woman to answer a series of questions in English in a hearing Monday."

"Juvenile Court Judge Barry Tatum told Felipa Berrera during a closed hearing in October that she would need to show basic English proficiency when she returned to court in six months. But in an about-face at Monday's hearing, which Tatum opened to the public, he didn't require English responses to questions such as where she works, lives and how long she's been in the United States."

"The judge also challenged her attorneys over using the word 'test' to describe the order he had issued."

The language issue may still come up later in the case, at trial. Judge Tatum did not set a trial date Monday.

Barrera speaks Mestico, a native dialect of Mexico. She does not speak Spanish.

WTVF Channel 5 reported on the story in this video.

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