Back in the ’80s I attended a training courses called Criminal Justice Academy. The instructors were acting chief justice Alexander Castro, former associate judge Timothy Bellas, and former attorney general Alex Kosack. They were all prosecutors from the Office of the Attorney General back in the ’80s. It was a very good course, having the privilege and the opportunity to learn about the laws and procedures of the CNMI traffic code, homicide cases, and searches and seizures.
Enforcing the law is a challenging career and it is not an easy task but what bothers me is an article in the Saipan Tribune dated July 18, 2012, with the title “Woman found not guilty.” What concerns me is that a local court judge and the lawyer for the defendant worked together in the past and also they are cousins. I believe some people know about the judge and lawyer. So in my opinion, the judge should have recused himself from presiding over the bench trial. Is it fair, for example, if my brother is going to be on bench trial and I would be the judge on the trial? What would the people think and say? But suppose that any lawyer who wins his case over the government because the government failed to proof its case beyond a reasonable doubt and as a judge I found him not guilty? For sure the people would think the negative way. In my opinion, in this kind of situation the rule of conflict of interest shall apply. I just want to let the people of the CNMI know that I have nothing against the judge and the lawyer. It’s only a matter for concern.
Kannat Tabla, Saipan