Judge orders San Luis Candidate to prove English proficiency

Judge orders San Luis Candidate to prove English proficiency


Alejandrina Cabrera went before Yuma Superior Court Judge John Nelson after the San Luis City Council approved a motion in December asking for verification that she meets a state law requiring any person holding office in Arizona to be proficient in the English language.

"All members of the legislature or office shall read and write English without an interrupter in order to perform their duties," Says Glenn Gimbut, San Luis City Attorney.

Gimbut says many city officials and people who know Cabrera say she doesn't speak enough English to complete the obligations of a council member and because of this they want her to be disqualified from the race.

Cabrera's lawyers say she graduated from Kofa High School with Mayor Juan Carlos Escamilla who petitioned this case and because she has a high school diploma from this state her lawyers say this should make it apparent that she knows and understands the English language.

Judge Nelson didn't agree, and invited Cabrera to take the stand for simple questions posed by her own attorneys.

Cabrera had trouble answering what high school she went to and in less than a minute, Judge Nelson sent her back to her seat. 

Cabrera's lawyers say she had trouble answering the questions because she was nervous and asked Judge Nelson to give her another chance and let her read a news paper out loud, but the judge wouldn't allow it.

"I've gotta make a call on this case and I'm satisfied that there's an English proficiency issue here and I determined that in less than 30 seconds," says Judge Nelson.

"We have been here for over an hour and I would at least like to have 5 minutes. We have been listening to the state trying to keep someone off the ballot and I'm only allowed a couple questions?" says John R. Minore, attorney representing Cabrera.

Judge Nelson ordered Cabrera to be tested by a linguistics expert to prove she can read, write and speak English.

The next hearing has been set for January 25th,  Judge Nelson has asked for the linguistics expert used in this case to be present at the upcoming hearing.


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