The defense counsel of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres is opposing a recent notice by the Office of the Attorney General that it intends to offer evidence at trial of the governor’s other crimes and wrongdoings, saying the notice is insufficient.
According to a motion filed by Torres’ team of lawyers, the Commonwealth has not met its burden of proof to establish any basis for admitting each “other act” evidence under Rule 404(b) and has not met its burden of proof that the noticed evidence is relevant and not prejudicial.
“The Commonwealth has the burden of proof on the admissibility of Rule 404(b) other act evidence, and has not met that burden of proof for each of the other act evidence it intends to introduce at trial,” they said.
For example, the lawyers said, the Commonwealth claims that other act evidence will be used to establish knowledge, plan, preparation, and intent as well as absence of mistake or accident. “However, its notice fails to show how each alleged other act evidence relates to each of the alleged permitted purposes of knowledge, plan, preparation, intent, or absence of a mistake or an accident. Moreover, the Commonwealth does not articulate how the 12 counts of misconduct in office as charged by the information do not show such purposes, or why each other act evidence is necessary. These deficiencies render the Commonwealth’s notice insufficient,” the motion stated.
Last June 3, the Commonwealth, through OAG chief solicitor Robert Glass, filed a notice with Superior Court judge pro tem Alberto Tolentino that it intends to introduce certain uncharged conduct of Torres at trial pursuant to Rule 404(b) of the NMI Rules of Evidence. In the notice, Glass said the evidence he intends to introduce at trial will show proof of Torres’ intent, motive, knowledge of the crimes he allegedly committed.
Torres is represented in this case by a group of lawyers consisting of Viola Alepuyo, Victorino Torres, Matthew Holley, and Anthony Aguon.
The lawyers argue that the Commonwealth claims that the “other act” evidence it intends to introduce at trial shows that Torres, on other occasions prior to 2018, traveled on premium class airfare ticket, but does not explain why that is material to any charge or issue in the case as Torres is not charged with premium class travel.
“Torres is charged with misconduct in office for allegedly causing the issuance of an airline ticket for travel higher than regular economy fare, theft, and contempt. There is no explanation for how each ‘other act’ relates to any material issue associated with any of the 14 counts charged in the information. There is also no explanation of what fact or issue each ‘other act’ evidence proves that the additional ‘other act’ evidence does not. Even more so, it is not articulated how prior travel using a premium class airfare ticket is material to causing the issuance of an airline ticket in each of the misconduct in office charges, the theft charge, or the contempt charge,” Torres’ counsels said.
Lastly, Torres’ lawyers claim that the Commonwealth does not try to show that the alleged “other act” evidence does not present any danger of “unfair prejudice, confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, wasting time, or needlessly presenting cumulative evidence.”
“This is not an oversight. It is apparent that, even if the Commonwealth can meet its burden under Rule 404(b), the ‘other act’ evidence that the Commonwealth seeks to introduce presents the real danger of ‘unfair prejudice, confusing of the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, wasting time, or needlessly presenting cumulative evidence,’” the lawyers stated.
Tolentino is set to hear the motions and oppositions on June 30.