Chief prosecutor John Bradley is confident that the Office of the Public Defender’s objection to the OAG’s “practice” of submitting in court a police detective’s affidavit to support an arrest warrant in criminal cases without an accompanying complaint is without merit.
Bradley told Saipan Tribune that OPD’s objection will not interfere with the ability of police to continue their good work in drafting and presenting warrants. He cited Rule 3 of Criminal Procedure that states that a “complaint” is a “written statement of the essential facts constituting the offense charged.” The chief prosecutor said a warrant is accompanied by a detailed sworn statement of those facts and an identification of the offense committed.
“That satisfies the rule,” he said.
Bradley said everyone has recognized for decades now that these documents comply with the preliminary requirements for arresting and charging a person.
Assistant public defender Jean Nogues and chief public defender Douglas Hartig cited the OAG’s “practice” of filing only the detective’s affidavit during a bail hearing for Kennedy Masubed last May 11. The OPD was appointed as counsel for Masubed, an inmate who allegedly stabbed and wounded with a shiv a male barber who had just cut his hair at the Department of Corrections in Susupe last May 7. Masubed allegedly admitted to police that he beat up the barber for being gay.
Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho ordered the parties to file briefs about the issue, saying the OPD’s concern has far-reaching ramifications. The motion hearing will be on July 8, 2020.
At the bail hearing, Nogues pointed out that without the complaint, there is no charging document.
Assistant attorney general Chester Hinds, who is counsel for the government, said this is the first time he heard such an argument. Hinds said the arrest warrant was issued by the court after a police detective submitted an affidavit that found probable cause to charge Masubed. Hinds asserted that the rule says the government needs to file a complaint or affidavit, or both complaint and affidavit. Hinds said the affidavit that indicates probable cause of the charges is the complaint.
Nogues said the rule requires the filing of a charging document because a defendant has the right to be informed of the charges. Nogues also pointed out that the affidavit itself is not a complaint.