Patrick Calvo goes to federal court to challenge his imprisonment


Convicted child molester Patrick M. Calvo has challenged in federal court his alleged unlawful imprisonment at the Department of Corrections.

Calvo, through counsel Bruce Berline, filed yesterday a petition for a writ of habeas corpus against DOC acting commissioner Georgia M. Cabrera before the U.S. District Court for the NMI.

Habeas corpus refers to a court order to a prison warden or an institution holding someone in custody to deliver the imprisoned individual to the court.

In September 2009, a Superior Court jury found Calvo guilty of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in 2008.

On May 27, 2010, Presiding Judge Robert C. Naraja sentenced the then-47-year-old Calvo to eight years in prison.

Calvo appealed, asking the CNMI Supreme Court to reverse his conviction.

In the appeal, Calvo, through counsel, argued that Naraja deciding counts 3 and 4 violated his Sixth Amendment jury trial right and his 14th Amendment rights.

Count 3 charged the defendant with third-degree sexual abuse of a minor, while count 4 charged him with disturbing the peace.

The high court affirmed the conviction.

In Calvo’s petition for habeas corpus, Berline said the Commonwealth’s integration into the U.S. political and judicial system, clearly established that the Sixth Amendment jury trial right is a fundamental constitutional right in the Commonwealth.

Berline said denying Calvo of this right was contrary to or unreasonable application of the Sixth Amendment jurisprudence.

Second, the defense lawyer said, the Commonwealth’s judicial acquiescence in relegating the criminal jury trial right to the whim of the legislative branch is contrary to or an unreasonable application of the separation of powers and clearly established U.S. Supreme Court jurisprudence that the judicial branch rather than the political branches decide “what the law is.”

Finally, Berline said, denying Calvo a jury trial on counts 3 and 4 is contrary to or an unreasonable application of clearly established law on substantive due process as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.

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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