Government lawyer Betsy Weintraub was sanctioned yesterday for how she handled the sexual abuse case of a retired Army reservist.
Weintraub was sanctioned for alleged lack of diligence and dilatory tactics in the case. She was made to donate $500 to a non-profit group of her choice that helps children who are victims of sexual abuse.
Superior Court Associate Judge Teresa Kim-Tenorio said that sanction is an appropriate deterrent against prosecutorial harassment and lack of diligence.
The judge reiterated an earlier statement that a tremendous amount of resources have been expended in the prosecution of the case against retired Army reservist Michael Barry Murphy, including thousands of wasted taxpayer dollars and resources of overburdened law enforcement agencies and judiciary.
After Kim-Tenorio left the courtroom, assistant attorney general Jonathan Glass Jr. hugged Weintraub, who was still crying in her seat.
Chief Prosecutor Michele Harris and assistant attorney general Teri Tenorio were also among those who embraced her.
Weintraub refused to speak to the media.
Kim-Tenorio announced her ruling after hearing Weintraub’s and Harris’ statement. She said she will issue a written order.
As Kim-Tenorio was explaining her sanction order, Weintraub asked that she be allowed time to look at the issues that the judge raised at the hearing and allow her to present arguments.
Weintraub said the judge cited other issues, which were not included in her order to show cause.
Kim-Tenorio stated that Weintraub’s objection is noted and that the prosecutor is welcome to appeal her decision.
Kim-Tenorio then proceeded to announce her decision by reading a written note.
On the competency and lack of diligence issues, the judge cited instances when Weintraub failed to file responses on time, prolonging the case.
The judge said that Weintraub’s dropping and re-filing this and another case were questionable.
Assistant attorney general Chester Hinds, as counsel for Weintraub, argued that the Office of the Attorney General and Weintraub take sex abuse cases seriously.
Kim-Tenorio said that a number of Weintraub’s responses to the case were filed untimely. She cited instances when the prosecutor was late in filing responses and, in one matter, did not reply at all.
Weintraub explained some of her late responses and apologized. She, however, objected that she was not prepared for the issues cited by the judge. She said she’s prepared for only the issues that Kim-Tenorio raised in her order to show case.
When asked about the due diligence she has done in the Murphy case, Weintraub explained that she has been keeping in touch with the victim’s mother regularly, talking with a detective, communicating with the defense counsel, among others.
Kim-Tenorio asked if it’s fine for Weintraub to dismiss the case because she did not meet the deadline. Weintraub said it’s not the case. The judge pointed out that she was given many extensions.
In explaining her decision that caused a delay in the case, Weintraub insisted it was a wrong decision on her part and that she had apologized to the court, to the victim, and the victim’s family.
“People in our profession make mistakes. I made the wrong decision,” said a tearful Weintraub, who paused for a minute to wipe away tears.
Weintraub insisted that she takes her responsibility as a prosecutor seriously. She asked Kim-Tenorio to accept her apology.
Last Aug. 15, Kim-Tenorio granted Weintraub’s motion to dismiss without prejudice the charges against the 54-year-old Murphy. That means the government can re-file the case in the future.
The OAG’s motion to dismiss cites the inability to present forensic evidence that was not tendered during discovery and a challenge to witness competency.
Attorney Janet H. King, counsel for Murphy, sought to have the case dismissed.
King watched the hearing yesterday.