The Medium Is the Message

Should a witness who is unable to speak be permitted to testify if the only way the witness can communicate is through another person, such as a medium, who claims to be able to apprehend in some way the witness's answers to questions and to translate them? If the medium is sworn to interpret the witness's answers correctly, should the mute witness be allowed to testify? See People v. Walker, 69 Cal. App. 475, 231 P. 572 (1924); I. Disraeli, Curiosities of Literature, chapters on "Literary Impostures" and "Literary Forgeries," cited in J. Maguire, J. Weinstein, J. Chadbourn & J. Mansfield, Evidence 265 (1973). See also Hamisi s/o Salum v. R. (1951) 18 E.A.C.A. 217 (Kenya), discussed in P. Durand, Evidence for Magistrates 94 (1969).

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