OAG request to OK testimony via Skype is denied


Due to the slow internet speed at the Rota courthouse, a government request to allow testimony via Skype has been denied.

In an order on Tuesday, Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho said the government and Melvin Maratita Manglona should plan to have their witnesses testify in person on Rota.

Manglona, a former Rota police officer, has an upcoming jury trial on charges of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl.

Camacho declined to allow Skype testimony in the case.

“The technology available at the Rota courthouse makes Skype testimony unreliable at best, and the court is concerned that the case would not be able to proceed due to the technological difficulties unique to the Rota courthouse,” the judge said.

Camacho noted that although Manglona does not object to taking testimony via Skype, and had indicated an interest in questioning his witnesses via Skype, the issue is whether the Rota courthouse is equipped to allow uninterrupted, clear, and continuous testimony via Skype during a jury trial.

The jury trial of the 49-year-old Manglona will be held on Rota on June 26, 2017. The Office of the Attorney General had charged him with two counts of sexual abuse of a minor in the first degree and one count of disturbing the peace.

Assistant attorney general Teri Tenorio filed on Tuesday the motion to permit testimony via Skype, including an expert witness located on Guam. Defense counsel Brien Sers Nicholas did not oppose.

At the pre-trial conference on Tuesday, one of the court’s information technology personnel, John Demapan, had said the available technology and internet speed at the Rota courthouse would make taking testimony via Skype unreliable.

In denying the motion, Camacho said with unreliable Skype at the Rota courthouse, the jury will be waiting while the attorneys iron out the technical issues with Skype freezing or disconnecting.

Further, Camacho added, if Skype testimony proves to be completely unworkable, there are no alternative sources for speedy internet nor expedient methods of calling the witnesses live, other than flying witnesses to Rota.

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 ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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