Defense lawyer: Judge Camacho made no error in his order

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ATTORNEY Anthony Aguon said Superior Court Judge Joseph N. Camacho has made no clear error in his order for tangible materials in a sexual abuse of a minor case.

“Disobeying a valid court order simply because a party disagrees with that court’s decision is not a dire instance with no available relief,” said Aguon who represents the defendant, Rudolph Rudolph.

Aguon said, “A party should not be able to evoke a writ of mandamus whenever it disagrees with a court decision. Otherwise, writs of mandamus would not be an extraordinary remedy and will go against the court’s long-standing practice of avoiding piecemeal appeals.”

Aguon is referring to the Office of the Attorney General’s petition for a writ of mandamus, requesting the NMI Supreme Court to review Judge Camacho’s order issuing a discovery in a preliminary hearing for Rudolph who has been in the custody of the Department of Corrections since his arrest in August.

The defendant was charged on Aug. 5, 2020 with three counts of sexual abuse of a minor in the first degree and four counts of sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree.

Aguon said a writ of mandamus is an extraordinary remedy reserved for the most dire instances when no other relief is available.

“Despite the Commonwealth’s assertions, this is not one of those dire instances,” Aguon added.

Citing the high court’s 1989 ruling in Tenorio v. Superior Ct., 1 NMI 1, 9–10, Aguon said the high court must consider the following factors when deciding whether to issue a writ of mandamus:

 1) The party seeking the writ has no other adequate means, such as a direct appeal, to attain the relief desired;

2) The petitioner will be damaged or prejudiced in a way not correctable on appeal;

3) The lower court’s order is clearly erroneous as a matter of law;

4) The lower court’s order is an oft-repeated error, or manifests a persistent disregard of applicable rules; and

5) The lower court’s order raises new and important problems, or issues of law of first impression.

Aguon said the government’s petition did not satisfy these factors.

He asked the high court to deny the petition and for the government to turn over the tangible materials it has in its possession as ordered so that Rudolph’s preliminary hearing may be completed without any further delay.

Chief prosecutor John Bradley previously stated that the government and the defense counsel came to an agreement to continue the preliminary hearing pending the decision from the local Supreme Court.

Judge Camacho finds that Rudolph has the right to cross-examine adverse witnesses at a preliminary examination hearing “to weed out groundless claims.”

The judge said the defendant is also entitled to the tangible materials in possession of the Commonwealth that relate to the government’s determination of probable cause so that the defendant can fully and properly cross-examine the government witness.

The AG’s office, however, said the trial court lacks jurisdiction to compel discovery.

The other four Superior Court Judges do not currently require the government to produce discovery prior to or at a preliminary hearing, the AG’s office stated.

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