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Maui plays role in reforming Mongolian courts

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 10:42 a.m. HST, Jan 23, 2014

WAILUKU » Eight prosecutors from Mongolia are using Hawaii courts to learn about the U.S. judicial system.

The group arrived on Maui on Saturday, where they visited the beach for the first time before learning about elements of the court system that are commonly known in the United States but are foreign concepts to the prosecutors from the isolated, landlocked Asian country.

The visit comes as Mongolian officials are working to reform the country's judicial system, said Assistant Prosecutor General Ganzorig Gombosuren of the Office of the Prosecutor General in Mongolia. The office is roughly equivalent to the attorney general's office in the United States.

"It's an exciting time in Mongolia," Ganzorig said. "We're writing a new history of Mongolia."

They attended a seminar by Maui County Prosecuting Attorney John D. Kim and observed court hearings. They learned about court matters such as Miranda rights and why finding of guilt and sentencing are often done at separate hearings, the Maui News reported.

"I think in America, everybody knows what is the Miranda rule," Ganzorig said. "But in Mongolia, that's not the case. Not many people would know they have constitutional rights when they first meet a policeman. So we have to explain the rights."

He said the visitors want to incorporate some of the U.S. court system into Mongolian law, such as establishing a public defender's office for those who can't afford to hire a lawyer.

The visit was inspired by a friendship between Ganzorig and retired 2nd Circuit Chief Judge Shackley Raffetto, who is hosting the group. Raffetto has traveled to Mongolia and got to know Ganzorig in the 1990s when he came to Maui to observe Raffetto's courtroom as part of a training program for Mongolian judges and government officials. Ganzorig was a judge on the Supreme Court of Mongolia at the time.

"We have remained in contact, and we have been good friends," Raffetto said.

The group was expected to travel to Honolulu today to meet with state Attorney General David Louie and Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald.

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