Defense calls for mistrial


Bruce Berline, front, defense lawyer for Manolo Romolor, rear, leaves the Horiguchi Building after the continuation yesterday of Romolor’s trial in Superior Court. (Kimberly A. Bautista)

The ongoing jury trial for an alleged rape incident has been delayed because of a motion filed by the defense for the court to declare a mistrial in the case.

Superior Court Presiding Judge Robert Naraja ordered Bruce Berline, the lawyer for Manolo Romolor, to submit a motion for a mistrial and for prosecutor Teri Tenorio to respond.

The arguments will be heard in court today and will delay the ongoing jury trial. Romolor is on trial for alleged rape.

The order came following a verbal motion for mistrial and a warning from Naraja last Tuesday.

In the continuation of Romolor’s jury trial on Tuesday, Berline verbally filed a motion for a mistrial, accusing the prosecutor of incompetence and an inability to defend the victim and the government.

“I want to be in trial with a competent prosecutor. That’s how trials are supposed to go, somebody who knows the rules of evidence, knows her duty to protect the system, protect the jurors, to protect the witnesses, and to protect the Judiciary. That’s the duty of the prosecutor” he said.

Berline said he wants a mistrial declared because Tenorio was vouching for the witness, misstated testimonies, and testified for the witness.

“Vouching, it’s when the prosecutor calls a witness by the first name. The prosecutor is supposed to be an unbiased representative of the government. You can’t just talk to a witness and give this impression, ‘We’re friends and I really believe you.’ No. The prosecution can’t say to the jury, ‘I believe her, or she’s telling the truth.’ That’s improper vouching for a witness. That includes referring to someone on a first-name basis, [which] implies that there’s some special relationship. Another thing is you can’t misstate testimonies. The other thing is you can’t testify as a prosecutor,” he said.

Following the verbal motion, Naraja warned Tenorio that if changes are not made, a hearing for a mistrial would be considered.

When asked for comments, Tenorio said, as a prosecutor, she is prohibited from speaking about or responding to inquiries on active or ongoing cases.

Berline argued that Romolor’s right to due process is being violated due to prosecutorial error.

“Prosecutorial error is a large standard but it’s cumulative and, after a while, when I have to stand up on nearly every question, and object, in front of the jury, at one point that becomes a violation of Mr. Manalo’s due process rights for a fair trial. This is not the way. This is becoming a travesty. My client is facing 30 years maximum and we’re only on the second witness. This can’t be justice,” he said.

“At this point, I never made more objections in my entire life in any trial…and I never had any more objections sustained. As a defense attorney, I like winning my objections but, after a while, it becomes a due process issue when the prosecutor, time and time again, makes these errors,” he added.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at
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