Man claims right to speedy trial was violated

Posted on May 03 2021

A lawyer has asked the Superior Court to dismiss the case against his client, claiming his client’s right to due process and a speedy trial have been violated.

Lawyer Anthony Aguon asked the Superior Court to dismiss the case against his client, Lucas Taitano Manglona, saying his client has yet to undergo any psychiatric evaluation despite a court order issued more than a year ago.

On Sept. 23, 2020, Aguon said his client waived his right to a preliminary hearing, and a consolidation of cases followed during which the parties informed the court that they were working toward a non-trial disposition of the case.

Last Feb. 8, Presiding Judge Roberto C. Naraja ordered the defendant to undergo a psychiatric evaluation at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp, after Aguon filed a motion to determine Manglona’s competency to stand trial. Naraja also ordered a CHCC psychiatrist— or other qualified mental health professional—to file a written report to the clerk of court within 60 days of the April 10 order.

To date, Aguon said, Manglona remains in the custody of the Department of Corrections and has yet to undergo any psychiatric evaluation.

According to Aguon, CHCC also failed to file any written report. After further inquiry with CHCC, he learned from CHCC’s legal counsel that “CHCC does not provide competency evaluations as one of its services.”

“CHCC also has not filed any written report on the matter. Further, to the best of the undersigned counsel’s knowledge, there are no other qualified mental healthcare professionals on island who are able to provide this evaluation to defendant,” said Aguon.

According to Aguon, the court may not criminally proceed in this case until or unless the defendant is found legally competent. To proceed against an incompetent defendant or to keep a defendant in jail indefinitely is a due process violation, he said.

“Due to the inability to conduct a mental competency test pursuant to the Commonwealth law, and in order to protect his constitutional due process rights, defendant should be released unconditionally, and the court should dismiss this case in its entirety,” Aguon added.

Manglona was allegedly responsible for damaging different cars in separate incidents and was then charged with tampering with a vehicle and vandalism.

Justine Nauta | Correspondent
Justine Nauta is Saipan Tribune's community and health reporter and has covered a wide range of news beats, including the Northern Marianas College and Commonwealth Health Care Corp. She's currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation and Human Services at NMC.
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