This question is U.S. based.
I ask this because recently I was summoned for jury duty. When we were in the courtroom, the judge asked each of the jurors in the box a list of questions. One of them was their command/understanding of the English language.
One person said he didn't understand English and ignored the judge's questions. If I recall, some of the follow up questions asked were:
- Do you understand English? (The guy answered "no")
- If you don't know English, how did you know to come here today? (ignored the judge)
- How old are you? (ignored the judge)
- What do you do? Do you work or go to school? (ignored the judge)
It was clear he understood English because once the judge dismissed him, he immediately jumped out of his chair to leave. Everyone laughed because they knew the guy was lying. Even the judge remarked that even though he claimed he didn't understand English, he understood enough English to know "you're dismissed" meant he could leave and couldn't get out of his chair fast enough.
My question is why don't the courts charge people with contempt of court when it's clear they are untruthful? This is total disrespect of the judge and the court and is insulting everyone, especially the honorable judge's intelligence.
We can't charge him with perjury because he didn't take an oath but if people were charged with arrest or contempt of court for this, there would hopefully be less of this.
EDIT: Sorry, I didn't mean to make this question into a debate about knowledge of English. I just wanted to ask about holding people in contempt or some other punishment to prevent people from being untruthful when questioned during the jury selection process. I understand and sympathize with those who don't have a strong understanding of English to be on the jury and don't mind them being excused.
Yes, maybe if this guy was a better actor and wasn't so blatant about him "not knowing English", I wouldn't be as outraged and he may have still gotten dismissed. He might not fool the judge since the judge probably sees this (acting) from others every day though.