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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Incoming lawmaker wants to revisit ‘ice’ sentencing law

Representative-elect Christopher Leon Guerrero (Cov-Saipan), a former police officer, said that among his priorities is to look into judges’ concern over an “ice” law that requires mandatory sentences.

“I will revisit it definitely,” said Leon Guerrero in an interview yesterday.

Leon Guerrero was referring to a law that provides a mandatory 25-year prison sentence on anyone convicted of trafficking “ice”, even it involves only 3 grams and the defendant has no prior conviction.

Superior Court associate judges David A. Wiseman and Kenneth L. Govendo had both urged the Legislature to look into this “ice” trafficking law.

In a written order in an “ice” case issued last year, Wiseman said he finds it necessary to make a statement suggesting amendments to mandatory sentencing laws as this type of statutes “curb the discretion of prosecutors and judges over certain offenses or types of offenders.

Wiseman said divesting prosecutors and judges of control over criminal sentences is a concern because discretion is the touchstone of a judicial sentence.

Leon Guerrero, who is expected to chair the House’s Committee on Judiciary and Government Operations, said one of his main concerns is law enforcement and that the Department of Public Safety is one.

“We definitely need to restore the people’s confidence back in our law enforcement. I’m very much in support of that,” said Leon Guerrero, who has been a law enforcer for 20 years.

He said he will also revisit a bill that seeks to strengthen laws on sex crimes and domestic violence. The bill, introduced by Rep. Edmund Villagomez (Cov-Saipan), was recently vetoed by Gov. Benigno R. Fitial.

In vetoing the legislation, Fitial cited “some very serious concerns” the Office of the Attorney General raised, including the removal of vital definitions that would hinder prosecution.

Leon Guerrero said he supports the intent of Villagomez’s bill.

He also vowed to introduce revenue-generating legislation. “I’m looking into legislation that will benefit both our government and the community,” he added.

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