The rape case against Manolo Romolor that has been ongoing for over two years already has been dismissed with prejudice because the alleged victim in the case does not plan to return to the CNMI for the trial.
The charges were dismissed with prejudice; that means the case cannot be re-filed.
Assistant attorney general Robert Glass made the motion to dismiss the charges against Romolor last Thursday, saying the alleged rape victim had informed the Office of the Attorney General that she will not be returning to the CNMI for the jury trial that was initially scheduled for May 13, 2019. That means the prosecution cannot meet its burden to prove that Romolor is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Glass said that there are more reasons but the prosecution refuses to get into it.
“While the prosecution declines to go into all the reasons, it was informed by the victim on May 1 that she would not be returning to the CNMI for the trial. Without the complaining witness, the Commonwealth cannot meet its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said.
Glass said the motion to dismiss is pursuant to the Commonwealth Rules of Criminal Procedure. That’s true that the prosecution is in the best position to determine if a prosecution should be terminated but the court has some discretion to deny the motion if the motion is contrary to the public’s interest or if the dismissal would contribute to prosecutorial harassment due to recharging.
However, Glass said since there is no intent to refile the case, the only thing the court would have to consider is the public’s interest.
Superior Court Presiding Judge Robert Naraja granted the prosecution’s motion for dismissal and vacated the trial date of May 13.
Naraja cited “prosecutorial misconduct” in declaring a mistrial in Romolor’s case back on Feb. 15, 2019.
“After reviewing the parties and listening to the arguments, and the audio of the trial, I am declaring a mistrial due to prosecutorial misconduct. The written order will follow explaining the court’s reasoning in detail. Briefly, the court would like to note that there were nearly 80 objections against the Commonwealth, a curative instruction to mischaracterization of the Commonwealth, and numerous instances of testifying and inappropriate use of the complaining witness’ first name. These excessively large amount of errors infected the trial. …Continued instruction could only shield the jury so much,” Naraja said.
The court cited 14 circumstance of mischaracterization of a witness testimony, multiple hearsay issues, multiple instances of lack of foundation, 22 circumstances where the government was testifying during direct examination, and 10 circumstances where the government referred to the victim by her first name.
“…most of these issues would likely not be a cause of a mistrial. However, these issues are not looked at individually…they are examined collectively. Therefore, in a situation such as this, a mistrial was the only course of action,” the court had ruled.