Language a barrier in prostitution case |

Language a barrier in prostitution case

Hui Jun Mu

Language barriers are proving a challenge in the legal case of a woman accused of prostitution in Glenwood Springs.Hui Jun Mu appeared in Garfield County Court Monday but said she couldn’t speak English. Judge Paul Metzger set up a conference call with an interpreter service so she could be advised in Mandarin regarding her rights and the charges against her.She also handed Metzger a statement in English saying that she was jobless and needed a lawyer. But when he told her she needed to fill out an application for a court-appointed public defender, she said she needed a translator to do that as well.”I cannot write,” she explained through the interpreter.She said she had no one who could fill out the form or accompany her to the public defender’s office to translate for her.

Metzger said he would try to have an interpreter appear with her for her next court date, which is set for Nov. 27.”I will look into whether or not there is some way of assisting in the meantime with the application process. I’m not sure whether we are capable of providing that assistance or not,” he said.He said he also would contact the public defender’s office and explain the situation.”Perhaps I can provisionally appoint the public defender to represent you even if we don’t have the completed application at this time,” Metzger said.Translators are commonly available in local courts for people who speak Spanish, but Monday’s case presented an unusual challenge for the judge and prosecution. Deputy district attorney Tony Hershey, who is handling the case, said he remembers another case involving a defendant who spoke Mandarin, but the person was able to get translation help for out-of-court matters from someone working in a local Chinese restaurant. He said bringing a Mandarin interpreter in from Denver for court proceedings can be quite expensive.

Hui Jun Mu was arrested in an undercover operation Oct. 5 at A-1 Chinese Health Care Massage on Grand Avenue. She is charged with unlawful sexual contact and prostitution.Both charges are misdemeanors. Metzger advised her Monday that a prostitution conviction is punishable by up to six months in county jail and $650 in fines, and unlawful sexual contact is punishable by up to two years in county jail and $5,000 in fines.She is free on $1,250 bond.Metzger read her statement aloud in court Monday.”I have no job right now,” it said. “My husband was out of work, and I must look after two of my children. I have no money to pay a lawyer, so I am requesting that the court dispatch a lawyer and a Mandarin translator for me, please.”

Police have said they don’t think her employer had been aware of the prostitution activities she allegedly was involved in there.She was arrested the same night police also arrested Qing Zhang, owner of the Asian Day Spa on Cooper Street, for charges including prostitution and running a house of prostitution. Police have said they don’t think the two businesses are connected.Qing Zhang also is free on bond. Last week, her attorney, Peter Rachesky, said she had planned to go back to China but would return in time for her next court date.Contact Dennis Webb:

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