Defendant says court should deny government motion in traffic case

FORMER CNMI Labor Secretary Edith Deleon Guerrero is asking the Superior Court to reject the government’s motion for clarification of the terms “vehicle owned” or “leased” in the misuse-of-a-government-vehicle case filed against her.

Deleon Guerrero, through Assistant Public Defender Cindy Nesbit, said the court should deny the Office of the Attorney General’s motion for clarification on Judge Joseph N. Camacho’s interpretations of the terms.

Deleon Guerrero was cited for driving an unmarked government vehicle with tinted windows on Oct 1, 2016, and has pled not guilty.

Edith Deleon Guerrero

The charges are punishable by a fine of up to $500 and/or three days of imprisonment.

Nesbit said the court should deny the Office of the AG’s motion as the government lacks standing and any interpretation of the statute in question will not affect the proceedings in the traffic case filed against Deleon Guerrero.

Nesbit said in the alternative, Judge Camacho should uphold his earlier interpretation of 1 CMC Section 7406 which regulates the use of government vehicles.

Judge Camacho vacated the bench trial that was supposed to start on June 7 because the Office of the AG’s motion had cited a prior traffic case against former Education Commissioner Dr. Rita Aldan Sablan.

Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Glass Jr. filed the motion for clarification.

He said Judge Camacho acquitted Sablan in April 2016 of the same charges filed against Deleon Guerrero. Judge Camacho ruled that the car Sablan was driving was not a “government vehicle” because it was leased for 15 days and not for the statutorily required 12 months.

The Office of the AG appealed Sablan’s case, but the CNMI Supreme Court dismissed it and sanctioned the commonwealth because the appeal was deemed frivolous.

Judge Camacho defined a vehicle owned or leased according to the definition found in 9CMC 1103(e) in Sablan’s case, Glass said.

In response to the government’s motion, Nesbit said it does not present a single rule, statute, or case giving it the legal authority to bring the motion.

The government, said Nesbit, is asking the court to reinterpret a prior decision.

She said the agreements entered into in this case are rental agreements, not lease agreements, which differ substantially.

The statute in question, 1CMC Section 7406, applies only to vehicles owned or leased by the government, she said, adding that there is no mention of rental vehicles anywhere in the statute.

Nesbit said the statute does not apply to the facts of this case, so clarification of the court’s interpretation of that statute will not affect these proceedings.

Under these circumstances, the court is under no obligation to consider the government’s motion, Nesbit said.

According to court documents, a traffic citation was issued against Deleon Guerrero on Oct. 16, 2016 at 3:39 p.m. in the parking lot of Happiness Chinese Restaurant in western Garapan.

The citation stated that Deleon Guerrero was the driver of a red five-door Toyota registered to Marfega Trading Co. Inc.

In an order last week, Judge Camacho set a hearing on the motion for clarification of law on Jan. 31, 2018 at 9 a.m.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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