16 Feb 2018
- By Bryan Manabat – [email protected] – Variety News Staff
SUPERIOR Court Judge Joseph N. Camacho rejected the Office of the Attorney General’s argument in a traffic case involving former Department of Labor Chief Edith Eleanor Deleon Guerrero who was charged with misuse of a government vehicle. The judge at the same time admonished the prosecutor for a lack of candor and misrepresentation in his arguments.
After reviewing the filings, oral arguments and applicable laws, the judge denied the government’s motion for clarification of law, finding it deficient. He said it failed to articulate the legal basis for the motion.
The judge set a status conference for April 4, 2018 at 9 a.m. in Courtroom 220A.
Deleon Guerrero was cited for three violations related to driving an unmarked government vehicle with tinted windows on Oct 1, 2016. She has pled not guilty. The three charges are punishable by a fine of up to $500 and/or three days of imprisonment.
According to Deleon Guerrero, she rented the vehicle she was using and it was not a government vehicle.
At the motion hearing, Deleon Guerrero was represented by Assistant Public Defender Heather Zona while Assistant Attorney General Robert Glass Jr. appeared for the government.
The government asked the court to “provide clarification on how it intends to interpret ‘government vehicle.’ ”
The government wanted to know whether the court would follow its prior interpretation of “government vehicle,” which the AG’s office believes to be incorrect.
But the judge said Glass’s sole argument as to how the government’s motion is proper is to quote the “rules” with the word “request” italicized.
Judge Camacho said the prosecutor failed to articulate the legal authority for how his motion for clarification of law is a proper request filed for court’s consideration.
“Instead of properly articulating how the motion is a proper request, the government’s argument emphasized that the CNMI Supreme Court has yet to rule on former Education Commissioner Dr. Rita A. Sablan’s traffic case,” the judge said
Glass has argued that “due to the uncertainty of how the Supreme Court may choose to rule, the law is not conclusive at this point which is why the commonwealth seeks clarification from the trial court as to which framework will be used for the trial.”
According to Judge Camacho, “The commonwealth’s motion for clarification is so wholly deficient of supporting legal authority that the ‘motion’ could be any of a variety of improper motions.”
The judge added: “First, the motion could be an improper motion for clarification of this court’s order in Sablan’s case. Second, the motion could be some other kind of improper collateral attack on this court in the Sablan case. Third, the motion could be an improper certified question filed with the Superior Court rather than in the Supreme Court. Fourth, the motion could be an improper motion moving that the court do legal research for the commonwealth. Fifth, the motion could be an improper order to show cause demanding the undersigned judge explain himself to the Office of the AG because of the order in the Sablan case.”
Without any analysis, the judge said, “it is unclear how this motion, which could be one of any number of improper requests, is a proper motion for the court to rule on.”
The judge reminded the prosecutor of his duty to be honest and diligent.
Judge Camacho also pointed out the “misrepresentation” of Glass regarding the status of the motion of reconsideration in Sablan’s case in the CNMI Supreme Court.
The judge said the prosecutor repeatedly stated that the Supreme Court was still considering the commonwealth’s motion for rehearing and the Supreme Court would be deciding the exact issue of what constitutes a “government vehicle.”
“This representation is wholly incorrect since the Supreme Court had issued an order regarding the motion for reconsideration 16 days earlier, and the order did not address the definition of ‘government vehicle.’ ”
The judge said Glass “failed to do his due diligence regarding Sablan, a separate case handled by his office that he relied on his brief. The commonwealth’s attorney misrepresented the status of the Sablan case, which the commonwealth alleged to be fundamental to its motion.”
In April 2016, Judge Camacho found Sablan not guilty in her traffic case.
In Jan. 2015, Sablan was cited by police for violating the government vehicle provisions of the Commonwealth Code: driving a government vehicle that does not bear a government license plate; driving an unmarked government vehicle; and operating a government vehicle with tinted windows.
In his ruling, Judge Camacho said the law requires a vehicle leased for 12 months or more to display government license plates and markings and not be tinted. But, he added, a vehicle leased for 15 days by a government agency is not required to display government license plates and markings or have tinting on the windows removed.
The judge said it was during a 15-day lease extension that Sablan was given a citation.
Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/102313-judge-camacho-scolds-prosecutor