14 Feb 2018
- By Bryan Manabat – [email protected] – Variety News Staff
THE lawyer representing a former Army Reservist charged with sexually abusing a minor has accused the Office of the Attorney General of “deliberate and oppressive tactics.”
According to the prosecution, the defendant Michael Barry Murphy, 55, committed sexual abuse of a minor in the first degree, and sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree. His defense counsel is Janet H. King.
On Aug. 15, 2017, Superior Court Judge Teresa Kim-Tenorio granted the government motion to dismiss without prejudice the case against Murphy. But the AG’s office re-filed the case on Dec. 5, 2017, this time assigning it to Assistant Attorney General Teri Tenorio.
“The rot in the Office of the Attorney General is ingrained in what is quickly becoming a culture of making excuses for the insidious actions of a few of its prosecutors — and the bad apples must be stopped immediately,” King stated in her reply to the prosecution’s opposition to her motion to dismiss.
King said the AG’s office is deliberately delaying the trial in violation of Murphy’s rights.
On Jan. 29, 2018, she said the commonwealth requested an off-the-record conference at which it presented to the court misleading information in order to delay the defendant’s trial.
She said Assistant AG Teri Tenorio asked the court to grant a continuance to allow time for a “witness” to seek counseling because the mental health counselor went into private practice and is no longer a counselor at Karidat.
“A misleading and untrue statement,” King said.
King said Tenorio needs a continuance “primarily because of her failure to exercise due diligence and meet deadlines in relation to this case.”
King said such failures and lack of candor seem to be part of a pattern of neglect at the AG’s office when it comes to Murphy and likely with other criminal defendants as well.
“She [Tenorio] provides no explanation as to why an alleged victim’s discontinuation of counseling services means that the trial must be continued,” King said.
She noted that the government was forced to voluntarily dismiss the charges last time because the then-prosecutor, Betsy Weintraub, missed the discovery deadline.
“It seems that the commonwealth has little regard for the court’s orders and deadlines and even less regard for a criminal defendant’s rights,” King said, adding that “this behavior, unchecked, will become a culture of ‘win-at-any-cost’.”
King said Murphy has suffered prejudice to his defense as a result of the delay. The court, she added, should grant the defendant’s motion to dismiss and sanction the AG’s office for dilatory tactics.
In her opposition to the motion to dismiss, Tenorio said the defendant has failed to articulate any delay in filing information against Murphy or any unreasonable delay by the government in bringing the defendant to trial.
She said the basis for a request for continuance of trial was made in good faith — that is, “to protect the emotional well-being of the victim in preparation for a conceivably hostile and emotionally traumatizing trial.”
Tenorio said she is concerned for the victim’s safety, and “that outranks my duty in the pursuit of justice.” The victim, she added, has started her counselling sessions.
At the status conference on Tuesday afternoon, both lawyers argued their positions before Judge Kim-Tenorio.
Ruling from the bench, the judge granted the continuance request of the prosecution, and said there was no unnecessary delay on the part of the prosecutor.
“This is not the same prosecutor involved in the last matter relating the defendant. The fact is, this case fell into her lap [Tenorio’s] a couple of months ago, so I will not personally sanction her for that,” the judge said, adding that she will issue a written ruling on the matter.
Following the judge’s ruling, King told the court that she will file a motion for reconsideration.
Judge Kim-Tenorio scheduled a pretrial conference for Sept. 4 at 9 a.m., and set the trial for Oct.15, 2018.
Attorney General Edward Manibusan, in an email to Variety, declined to comment on the case, saying that “under the Court’s Rule of Practice, attorneys and law firms are prohibited from discussing a matter that is pending before the court.”
Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/102232-defense-lawyer-slams-ag-s-office