Assistant attorney general Betsy Weintraub has admitted that she made a mistake in the sexual abuse case of a retired Army reservist but denied that it was a delaying tactic.
In response to an order to show cause, Weintraub also denied having a pattern of dismissing and re-charging cases.
She insists that her 10-year law career has enabled her to develop a “reputation of being a fair and honest” attorney.
Weintraub showed letters and emails of several attorneys in Memphis, including J. Ross Dyer, a sitting judge on the Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, who attested to her good character.
Weintraub spent most of her career practicing law in Memphis, Tennessee.
Superior Court Associate Judge Teresa Kim-Tenorio had directed Weintraub to appear in court today, Tuesday, to explain why she should not be sanctioned in the case against Michael Barry Murphy.
Weintraub had moved to dismiss the case against 54-year-old Murphy as the government would be unable to prove its case. The prosecution has the option to re-file the case in the future.
Kim-Tenorio ruled that insufficient evidence warrants dismissing Murphy’s case.
Weintraub said that when she reviewed the initial report in Murphy’s case in September 2016, she failed to recognize the need for the alleged victim’s clothing to be tested for DNA.
Weintraub said she made this assessment based on the factual allegations in the case, the lack of stains on the clothing, and the delayed reporting of the incident at issue, but that her assessment turned out to be wrong.
She said this was not a dilatory tactic, but a mistake.
She said Kim-Tenorio addressed the mistake when the court heard the government’s motion to continue the trial in March.
Weintraub said the mistake delayed the processing of the physical evidence in the case, but denies that anything about the delay was intentional or even due to a lack of diligence.
She said when the physical evidence was submitted for processing in February 2017, neither party knew what would result from the testing and both parties were interested in the outcome.
“An important function of the prosecutor is to search for truth, regardless of whether the evidence is favorable to the defense or the prosecution,” Weintraub said.
She said when it appeared that analysis of the physical evidence may aid in that search for the truth, she immediately took steps to submit the evidence for processing, without regard for whether the evidence would implicate or exonerate Murphy.
Weintraub said because both parties were interested in the processing of the physical evidence, both parties agreed to move the trial from April 3, 2017, to Sept. 11, 2017.
On the pattern issue, Weintraub said she dismissed and re-charged only one case in the CNMI.
She said the reason for the dismissal was that neither side was prepared for trial and both parties needed more time to complete their investigations.
Soon after the dismissal, Weintraub said she visited the victim and determined that the charges were warranted.
She said the government re-filed the charges by penal summons per the agreement with the defense counsel.