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Defense lawyer: Court should sanction AG’s office for late discovery

A RAPE defendant has asked the Superior Court not to accept discovery material containing phone text messages.

Manolo Romolor , through attorney Bruce Berline, said the court should instead sanction the Office of the Attorney General for submitting  the discovery material 19 months past the deadline for exchange of discovery.

Berline said the discovery contained phone texts in Tagalog sent two years ago, from Nov. 17, 2016 to Nov. 21, 2016, from unidentified persons.

He said the government did not provide translation of the texts.

Despite his request for an explanation for the Dec. 21, 2018 discovery, he said the government failed to respond, at least prior to the filing of Berline’s motion, and has yet to explain “the purpose of the discovery, the nature of the discovery and why the discovery was so late.”

As far as he knows, Berline said the government has not filed any motion to amend the scheduling order to allow it to provide additional discovery in the matter.

Berline said even if the government can explain the discovery, “it is likely too late for the defense to follow up and adequately investigate the text messages and to be adequately be prepared for trial for the admission of such evidence.”

In Nov. 2016, Romolor, then 33 years old, was accused of sexually assaulting his drunk friend.

On Dec. 1, 2016, an amended information filed by the government charged Romolor with one count of sexual assault in the first degree and disturbing the peace.

The court issued a case management order requiring the parties to complete discovery within 45 days or no later than Jan.22, 2017.

On May 16, 2017 the court granted the government’s request to submit forensic evidence until June 21, 2017.

Berline said on June 23, 2017, the court issued an amended pre-trial order that did not extend the discovery deadline.

In July 2017, eight months after his arrest and detention, Romolor was released to a third-party custodian after posting a $10,000 cash-secured bond.

Berline said on May 10, 2018 the court issued a third amended pretrial order rescheduling the jury trial for July 16, 2018. There was no extension of discovery deadline, he added.

As a result of Typhoon Yutu, the court rescheduled the jury trial for Feb. 11, 2019 and, again, did not extend the discovery deadline, Berline said

“All discovery was to be completed on or before April 21, 2017 (with the exception of expert witnesses and the forensic evidence) — 19 months ago.”

But on Dec. 21, 2018, “with about 45 days to go before trial, the government has served additional discovery in this matter,” Berline said.

He added that under the rule of criminal procedures, the government’s failure to produce discovery in a timely manner is sanctionable.

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/109742-defense-lawyer-court-should-sanction-ag-s-office-for-late-discovery

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