North of the Border Circuit Judge Lawrence Korda insisted that a battered wife seeking a restraining order speak in English instead of her native Spanish.
''She doesn't need any translation,'' Korda said at the Dec. 1, 2005 hearing.
"She has been here 19 years. She's watched ¿Qué Pasa, U.S.A.? for 15.''
Item: County Court Judge Lee Seidman, on the shortlist for a promotion to Circuit Court has repeatedly asked traffic court defendants if they were here illegally, and in at least one case, turned over an illegal immigrant to law enforcement
What is going on North Of the Border???
We don't know, but we see where it's heading.
Indulge us in a little speculative fiction:
Its Morning in America again. And in Broward County too.
Morning calendar, South Satellite Courthouse, Broward County, 2021.
Chief Circuit Court Judge Lee Seidman makes one of his frequent returns to the Satellite Courthouse where he sat in as a lowly County Court Judge in the early part of the new century. Sediman has a fondness for the Courthouse, because it is where he made his name as America's leading anti-immigrant Judge. The publicity of having defendants arrested and deported propelled him to the position of Chief Circuit Court Judge. Today, one of Seidman's protégé’s is taking the bench for the first time, and Seidman wants to be on hand to help.
Forty four defendants and their families sit huddled close together in the modern courtroom. Only English is spoken. A few Defendants remain tight lipped.
Seidman waits in the hallway outside the back of the courtroom.
A dozen Jackbooted Officers dressed in black leather jackets and black pants march smartly up to Seidman. The Special Services section of the Broward Sheriffs Office, charged with assisting Judges "fulfill their constitutional oaths by investigating and arresting defendants” accompanies Judge Seidman wherever he goes. Known informally as the “SS”, the unit is feared by defendants for their ruthless interrogation techniques, concentrating on suspected illegal aliens who, in the language of the time "abuse taxpayers by demanding enforcement of rights reserved to US citizens."
The SS officers wear an insignia on their sleeve: a sharp red “SS” superimposed over a silhouette of Lady Liberty, which is encased in a circle with lightening bolts shooting from two opposite ends of the circle.
Before the calendar begins the SS officers walk quickly through the rows of seated defendants asking “Cheney Cards, please. Please have your Cheney Cards out for scanning.” The Cheney card is the national ID card all people in the US are required to carry. The law requiring National ID cards was enacted during the President Lynne Cheney/ Vice President Jenna Bush administrationThe new Judge takes the bench and the clerk starts calling the cases on the traffic arraignment calendar.
When a Defendant named Gonzalez is called, a young woman with a small daughter walks fearfully to the podium with another person. The Judge begins an inquiry and the other person is whispering into Gonzalez’s ear.
Judge Seidman sitting off to the side, walks up to the bench.
The SS officers snap to attention and a hush falls over the courtroom.
Seidman takes the microphone and introduces himself and says he is here to help the new Judge. Sediman then asks Gonzalez if she speaks English.
The other person begins to interpret and with a small hand signal from Seidman, the SS walks over and forcibly removes the person from the podium.
In halting English Gonzalez trys to say the she speaks some Engish.
Seidman interrupts: “It appears to this court that you do not speak English. Are you a US citizen?” The woman remains silent. Seidman looks to the head of his SS Unit.
"Lieutenant Schmidt, it appears to this Court that this Defendant does not speak English and may not be a US citizen. I have taken an oath as a Judge to uphold all of the laws of the State Of Florida. By the power vested in me I hereby order you to detain this woman on suspicion of being an illegal alien."
The SS officer rushes over and cuffs the woman. The young child begins to cry: Mama…Mama.
Seidman: "Lieutenant, take the child into custody as well. If her mother is illegal, so is she. " The SS unit works quickly as both the mother and child are taken from the courtroom.
Later that morning Seidman reviews the morning calendar with his new Judge:
“44 arraignments, 3 arrests for suspicion of not being a US citizen. About average. The key is engage the Defendant into conversation. If you notice an accent, or if they don’t speak English too well, then have the SS officer in the court open an investigation. If they don’t have a Cheney Card, have them taken into custody.”
Its Morning in Judge Seidman and Judge Korda's America again.
In Broward County.
North of The Border.
Where not speaking English is a crime.
See You In Court.