The Office of the Attorney General believes Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho is the only judge that allows “premature discovery” and is prepared to seek intervention from the Supreme Court.
In an email, John Bradley, OAG’s criminal division chief prosecutor, said they are taking the position that Camacho is the only trial judge that considers premature discovery, resulting in substantial delays in preliminary hearings.
“If necessary, we will seek the intervention of the Supreme Court,” Bradley said.
Bradley said the OAG is taking this action because victims of crime deserve timely presentation of their case.
“Victims of crime deserve a timely presentation of a criminal case consistent with the rules established by law. A preliminary hearing should not be used for anything more than a determination of probable cause. All other issues can be raised and resolved in front of the judge properly assigned to hear the complete case,” he said.
In his email, Bradley refers to a case involving Vicente Sablan Basa, 68-year-old man accused of trying to run over Xing Henry with a motor vehicle and repeatedly ramming a parked vehicle in Kagman.
Bradley said the Office of the Public Defender requested the court to order the AG’s office to produce all notes, police reports, and videos taken by the government in that case which ultimately resulted in the suspension of the preliminary hearing.
“This same type of request also occurred in another case involving Judge Camacho and we are opposing it as well. This is a developing issue,” Bradley said.
Bradley explained that discovery begins under CNMI law after a defendant is arraigned, not at a preliminary hearing. The preliminary hearing is merely a short presentation of information to show the judge that there is sufficient information available to believe the defendant likely committed the offense. Probable cause is a very low standard, unlike the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt at trial
Bradley also referred to another case that involved a sexual assault of a minor allegation.
The AG’s office in that case is opposing the defense request to compel production of tangible materials used by law enforcement to establish probable cause.