Rota mayor’s lawyer to file motion to dismiss indictment

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AT the status conference on Wednesday, attorney David Banes informed the federal court that he intends to file a motion to dismiss the indictment against his client, Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig.

Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona of the District Court for the NMI then set a motion hearing for June 2, 2020 at 10 a.m.

The judge directed Banes to file his motion by May 5. The opposition to the motion is due on May 19, and the reply to the opposition is due on May 26, the judge said.

According to the conference minutes, Banes stated that he also intends to file a motion to allow an expert witness to review the grand jury and Henthorn materials in the case.
Judge Manglona will hear this motion on the same date, June 2, at 10 a.m.

According to a legal website, “It is essential to obtain all relevant information about agents that have interviewed a witness or defendant. This includes prior backgrounds or training that can be used to undermine their credibility. It also includes the agents’ personnel files. The seminal case of United States v. Henthorn, 931 F.2d (9th Cir. 1991) allows for this sort of information to be provided to a defendant.”

In addition, the judge scheduled an evidentiary hearing for May 13 at 9 a.m. to address the defendants’ joint motion for sanction for ex parte witness communications and attempted expert witness tampering.

Ex parte is defined by an online legal dictionary as “relating to an action taken in a legal proceeding by one party without the presence or participation of the opposing party.”

Mayor Atalig and co-defendant Evelyn Atalig are accused of arranging CNMI-government funded trips to California, Palau, Guam, and Saipan from Feb. 2018 to Aug. 2018.

The superseding indictment charged the Ataligs with conspiracy, wire fraud, theft from program receiving federal funds, and two counts of false statements.

Attorney Steven Pixley represents Evelyn Atalig.

Judge Manglona on Wednesday told the parties that the jury trial is now scheduled for July 7 at 10 a.m.

The defendants, their attorneys, and the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric O’Malley, all appeared via videoconference.

O’ Malley at the hearing stated that the defendants’ expert witness summary is insufficient, adding that he will file a Daubert motion.

According to an online legal dictionary, a Daubert motion is a motion raised before or during trial, to exclude the presentation of unqualified evidence to the jury.

Judge Manglona set a 12 p.m., May 1 deadline for the Ataligs’ to supplement their expert witness summary.

Last month, the judge issued an order postponing the jury trial of the Ataligs because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the decision of the Guam and CNMI governments to close all government offices effective immediately while directing all non-essential employees to remain at home.

In CNMI Superior Court, Mayor Atalig and seven of his former and current resident directors were charged with misconduct in public office.

The bench trial was supposedly set to begin on March 30, 2020 but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the local court schedules have been temporary suspended.

The CNMI government is accusing the Rota officials of taking government-funded per diem and salary compensation to attend a Republican campaign rally on Guam on June 23, 2018.

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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