Being in a foreign country and not speaking the language can be frightening, especially when you get arrested. Hoang Vanhuong, 54, a transient from Vietnam, was arrested Sept. 27 at the Great Plains Regional Medical Center for assaulting a nurse.
According to Deputy Lincoln County Attorney Jennifer Wellan, Vanhuong went to the med center complaining of chest pains, but the staff found nothing wrong. The staff tried to get him to leave but Vanhuong was not satisfied, and the language barrier got in the way.
Sometimes transients walk into the medical center with supposed health problems and they are cleared by the staff and offered something to eat. The transients pass the word around that they may get food there. Some of them fake medical problems to get fed.
This was the suspicion, so Vanhuong was offered a sandwich and a taxi ride. He became belligerent, yelling about getting better help and wildly swinging his arms. In the process, he hit an emergency room nurse hard enough to slightly injure her.
Police were called and Vanhuong was charged with assault.
The Lincoln County Courts use the AT&T Language Line, a telephone service for translators. Court bailiffs tried for several days to get an interpreter for Vanhuong, with no success, because of his particular dialect.
After 11 days in jail, Vanhuong decided he would try to get by without an interpreter and appeared in court Thursday in front of Lincoln County Judge Kent Turnbull.
Attorney Martin Troshynski was his public defender and took the task of helping Vanhuong understand what was being said in court. Troshynski managed to convey the charge and the best plea choices available. It wasn’t easy, but Troshynski convinced Vanhuong to plead no contest to misdemeanor assault, which would get him out of jail.
Vanhuong seemed to have come to trust Troshynski and followed his suggestion. Turnbull sentenced him 10 days for assault plus another day to offset the court costs.
Vanhuong was released from jail.