Mafnas takes witness stand

Department of Corrections Commissioner Ramon C. Mafnas took the witness stand on Tuesday in the Superior Court to explain the circumstances behind a traffic stop he made that is now being questioned by the Office of Public Defender.

Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho heard the public defender’s motion to suppress evidence in the traffic case against Waitree Sawikan.

After listening to Mafnas’ testimony and arguments of counsels, Camacho placed the matter under advisement. Camacho said he will issue a written decision in the next few days.

Assistant attorney general Chemere K. McField called to the witness stand Mafnas, who was a commissioner of the Department of Public Safety when he made the traffic stop on Sawikan on Sept. 24, 2011.

Mafnas basically explained the circumstances that prompted him to stop Sawikan who was driving a moped on Beach Road.

Chief Public Defender Adam Hardwicke, counsel for Sawikan, did not call any witness.

Hardwicke questioned the constitutionality of the traffic stop on Sawikan made by a person he only described as a “white haired male person.” McField identified the person as Mafnas.

Hardwicke asked the court to exclude any and all evidence gathered as a result of the “unlawful traffic stop.”

Hardwicke said the was traffic stop was made in violation of Sawikan’s federal and constitutional right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures.

Hardwicke said his client was never informed who this “white haired person wearing a police outfit” was because the person never identified himself.

“Additionally, Mr. Sawikan was never informed by this unknown person why he was forced to pull over in the first place,” Hardwicke said.

By Ferdie de la Torre

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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