Chief Prosecutor Kevyn Lynch alleged that lawyer Joseph Arriola violated the Commonwealth Rules of Professional Conduct when he took the job of representing all nine defendants in the illegal gambling case filed by the government last month.
In a motion filed in the Superior Court, Lynch stated that the rules of conduct prohibits an attorney from representing multiple clients whose individual cases might run in conflict with one another.
Arriola’s clients filed individual responses in which they testified that they “knowingly and voluntarily consent to joint representation.”
Defendants in the case are Cheung Ying Pin, Juan Aquino, Qi Ling Dong, Zheng Wen Hu, Pierre Lam, Wu Quian, Xian Zhong Wu, Zhi Yi Zhang, and Zhen Shi Zheng, who were arrested and charged in connection with the government’s July 3 raid on the former Abracadabra Dive Shop in Garapan.
“A conflict of interest can result in a defendant being deprived of effective assistance of counsel,” Lynch said.
Lynch noted that Arriola also represents a plaintiff in a civil case that involved a similar gambling operations “which may be factually related to the instant case.”
Lynch was referring to the civil lawsuit recently filed by Cheung and former Senate President Juan S. Demapan against the Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Public Safety in connection with the government’s raid on East Ocean Restaurant last Sept. 2.
Arriola represents Cheung in this case, while Antonio Atalig represents Demapan.
As for the government’s criminal case against the nine suspected illegal operators and alleged gamblers, Lynch said they have “varying degrees of culpability.”
Lynch said individual depositions of the nine defendants might reveal that each of them has “interests adverse to other defendants represented by the same attorney.”
“Any criminal defendants has the right to effective assistance of counsel, a right which arises under Sixth Amendment of the federal constitution,” Lynch said. “At the core of effective assistance of counsel is the right to have an attorney who is guided only by the same interest of his/her client.” (MCM)