The lawyers of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres want denied the Office of the Attorney General’s motion to bar the introduction of evidence relating to other government officials who also traveled first class, premium class, or business class.
OAG chief solicitor Robert Glass recently filed a motion in limine seeking to prohibit Torres and his defense team from bringing up certain evidence in trial about other government employees who have traveled first class. A motion in limine is defined as “[a] pretrial request that certain inadmissible evidence not be referred to or offered at trial.”
However, according to the opposition filed by Torres’ lawyers yesterday, the OAG did not explain in its limine motion how each evidence it seeks to exclude is: highly prejudicial, does not relate to any confrontation of a prosecution witness, does not tend to negate an essential element of each offense charged in the Information, and is not relevant to any defense theory.
“The prosecution does not explain how curative instructions can address its purported concerns. Instead, it appears that the prosecution is trying to use the in limine motion to preclude Gov. Torres from using evidence to effectively challenge the prosecution’s proof as well as support his defenses,” the lawyer stated.
Torres is represented by a team of lawyers including Viola Alepuyo, Victorino Torres, Matthew Holley, and Anthony Aguon.
The defense explained that, by seeking to preclude the introduction of evidence relating to other government officials who traveled premium class, the OAG seeks to deprive Torres of key evidence to rebut essential elements of counts 1 to 13 filed against him, which relate to the issuance of airline tickets.
“The Legislature did not impose a civil monetary fine on a person who traveled in first or business class. Instead, the Legislature imposed a civil money penalty on the government employee who ‘caused’ the issuance of a ticket. Gov. Torres’ defense to Counts 1-13 include showing that he did not ‘cause’ the issuance of a ticket in violation of § 7407(f). This means that Gov. Torres, as a defense, can show that someone other than himself caused the issuance of the tickets at issue,” the defense explained.
The defense team added that evidence concerning tickets relating to the travel by other governmental officials in first class is necessary to show the commonality or consistent thread regarding the issuance of airline tickets to establish that someone other than Torres or the person traveling “caused” the issuance of airline tickets for government travel.
“Depriving Gov. Torres of such evidence precludes him from proving that ‘issuance’ of airline travel tickets for all Commonwealth travel is within the exclusive domain of a particular agency and if Torres is not an employee of that particular agency or department, then he did not violate the law,” the motion said.
The governor’s team of lawyers claim that the OAG’s requests may not be seeking an in limine ruling but is an effort for the court to implement a new evidentiary rule or procedure that will effectively disrupt the defense’s presentation at trial by requiring prior court permission before asking any question or pursuing inquiry into travel by other governmental officials.
Aside from prohibiting evidence regarding other government officials flying first class, Glass also sought to bar the defendant from introducing evidence, making arguments, or otherwise mentioning any potential penalties or collateral consequences he faces if convicted; bar the defense from stating or arguing that the prosecution is politically motivated; and to bar Torres’ team from mentioning the upcoming 2022 general election “as such has no bearing on any fact that would be relevant for this trial,” Glass stated in his motion.