Post Trial Moves by Villagomez and the Santos Couple

May 4, 2009

Many expected that former Lt. Governor Villagomez and the Santos couple would appeal after they were found guilty in the CUC case.  But to accuse Judge Munson of misconduct, and ask for a new trial because of jury rigging?   

 Here is the trial's docket history that lists all documents filed in the case including the most recent ones filed May 1, 2009.  Included are: several Motions For Acquittal, Motion for a New Trial, Motion to Disqualify Judge, and Memorandum in Support of Motion. According to the court order, the hearing on the motion to disqualify the judge will be held on June 4, 2009.

The documents are somewhat entertaining to read. The chart that the defense attorneys provided to show that members of the jury were related to witnesses (page 46 of Villagomez's Motion for a New Trial) is entitled, The Rigged Jury and Its Tangled Web of Deceit.  A little dramatic, no?

Beginning on page 5 of the Motion for a New Trial is a Declaration of Herman T. Guerrero stating, "For the past almost eighteen (18) years, I have researched the lineal descendants and genealogy of Chamorros and Carolinians in the CNMI. "

The pages that follow show how members of the jury are related to witnesses as second and third cousins. He declares:
7. Based On my observation and knowledge of Chamorro custom and tradition. second cousins are considered very close relatives.
8. Based on my observation and knowledge of Chamorro custom and tradition, third cousins are still considered close relatives.
After Guerrero's dizzying declaration is a Sealed Document Exhibit A, which is followed by pages of family trees of jurors. There are also excerpts from the testimonies of  witness Joseph M. Fejeren, and juror, Evelyn Sablan who reveals that she is the first cousin of Manny Sablan, a witness who testified in the case. (The court excused her as a juror.)  I am not convinced the jury was "rigged".

This disqualification is based upon the apparent bias and prejudicial comments of the Court, amounting to judicial misconduct. As a result, Defendant has been denied his right to a fair and impartial judge under the Due Process Clause.
It states, "The indisputable evidence of bias and misconduct is overwhelming.":
A. The Court met ex parte with a prospective juror/government witness.
B. The Court's numerous comments demeaning the efforts of Defendant's counsel and reflecting his opinion regarding the Defendant.
C. The Court on numerous occasions assisted the government in questioning witnesses and in the admission of evidence.
D. The Court stated during the cross examination of a government witness that a certain element of the charge had already been established by the government
E. The Court's conduct created the impression tor the jurors that the defendants were a threat to them.
I found the most interesting part of this document to be a Declaration by Janet Ulloa Maritita who alleges among other things, that "Caucasian Marshalls harassed and intimidated me to the point that I felt very uncomfortable sitting in the courtroom." Her declaration continues, claiming she was not seated where she wanted to be seated, that defendant Anthony Guerrero and his family were given "special treatment", and on and on.  

Are they really alleging racism? Maratita states:
I firmly believe that the Villagomez courtroom was the most segregated courtroom I have ever seen, with Villagomez family members whom are primarily Chamorro on one side and, with the exception of Guerrero family members, federal employees and their friends whom are primarily Caucasian on the other side.
Where is that family tree chart for this person?

Also filed was the order setting the hearing date for the sentencing of Anthony Guerrero for June 22, 2009.

I was a little surprised to see former Governor Froilan Tenorio's angry letter to the editor attacking US Attorney Leonardo Rapadas for remarks he made regarding the case of Lt. Governor Villagomez and the Santos couple. 

Today the ex-governor announced that he would join the Covenant Party in his bid for a Precinct 1 House seat. Maybe his attack was strategic.

A true opportunist, Tenorio was quoted by the Marianas Variety:
He said it’s expensive to run as an independent candidate, adding that he does not want to join “a party that will soon self-destruct,” referring to the local GOP which will hold a primary next month.

In an interview yesterday, Tenorio said his old party is having a difficult time organizing itself and may not be a viable political group at least for this election.

The former governor, who served one term as a senator and three terms as Washington representative, said he decided to come out of retirement because he does not like the way things are going on in the commonwealth.

“I don’t like the direction the CNMI is leading to right now,” Tenorio said adding that the issues that need much attention are the economy and the Commonwealth Utilities Corp.

Tenorio said Gov. Benigno R. Fitial and other leaders of the Covenant Party asked him to join them.

He said he accepted the invitation because he believes that the CNMI needs to have two parties.

Fitial, moreover, already has four years of experience that will help him address the CNMI’s economic problems, Tenorio said.
Will statements like those win him any votes?


Anonymous said...

I suspect that it is pretty hard in any small community like Saipan to get a jury whose members are totally unrelated to somebody in the court room or someone who will testify. Did the defense team do their homework before the jury was selected and were they provided a list of prospective witnesses? Judge Munson is a very fair judge and I will be very surprised if this goes anywhere. Tim should just accept his fate and get it over with. Remember the modest sentence that Senator Dela Cruz received and compare it to the one meted out to the Rota Senator who did not admit guilt and show remorse. Family pride is one thing..stupidity is quite another!

Anonymous said...

Every jury in the CNMI must have some relations to either witnesses or those being tried. I agree move along.

Anonymous said...

Tenorio won't win. He aligned himself with the party that ran the CNMI into the hole, pushed an anti-fed lawsuit with public funds, lies, lies lies. Maybe when Tenorio and Fitial lose they can combine their two passions and open a club with lots of girls for sale, and gambling

Anonymous said...

Throw the book at 'em!

Anonymous said...

I think anyone should be able to throw their hat on the ring, and I applaud Froilan's desire to fix things. However, he is not a person I would vote for to fix anything. He is hot-tempered and undiplomatic. Does he think we forgot that he blew $6 million on Abramoff contracts? CUC was failing when he was in office.

Although for flashy headlines and entertainment it may be enjoyable to see him elected.

just give up... said...

Where were the defense attorneys when this jury was being seated? Did they stand by so they could demand a new trial? How many times has Lujan used this tactic? The prosecutors should hire Guerrero to do a chart for every Chamorro and Carolinian on island. They would ALL be related. Maybe when the OCWs are given citizenship, there can be a jury with members who are not related.

Anonymous said...

The defense lawyers got spanked by the government in this case. The jury deliberated only a few hours, because the evidence presented was overwhelming. The jury was also offended by the defense lawyers' racist, sexist and amateurish arguments. The defense insulted their intelligence with such arguments. The defense team, especially Lujan, went on and on and on for days, repeating itself, boring the jury, and not really making any point. As for Janet Maratita alleging that she was harassed by marshals, seats in the courtroom were first-come, first-serve. Politicians and ex-politicians like Janet showed up to do their part and glare at the jury, but were disappointed when told they free to observe, but only if they got there when there was seating available. Janet was unhappy because they wouldn't let her sit close to the jury and try to intimidate them. Many "Caucasians" were also denied entry to the court when it was full, by the way. The most laughable part of the defense motions is the challenge to Judge Munson. The judge bent over backwards to be fair to these boobs. He would have been well within his rights to set some reasonable time limits on their cross-examinations, but he didn't. He also could have commented on the offensive character of some of their arguments, such as the blatantly racist call to "go with the local mango," and calling the FBI agent a "she-wolf." The bottom line is that this defense team is about as sorry a group of lawyers as you will ever find. Ray and Vic are stupid, unethical and inexperienced, and Lujan has never won a case other than by bribing jurors to vote his way. Tim and the Santoses had good, experienced counsel, who Lujan convinced them to fire, so that he would have young local guys who would do what they were told. I bet they regret their decision now.

the teacher said...

The former Lt Guv stole from the people here for years. When he was caught he lied. He bribed. He never confessed or showed an ounce of remorse. He continued to draw his salary and receive perks, including free power of all things. He waived his right to a speedy trial so he could stay out of jail and draw pay. He asked for a jury trial. Many people in the cNMI said a local jury would not convict him, which was never the case. While they were under pressure, the stood up and found him guilty. Now, showing no shame or pride, he is attacking the judge with pointless mud slinging.

Good bye Tim and good luck to you in the big house.

cactus said...

It's hard to believe none of these relationships were known to the defense until after the trial. Juror relationships to parties and witnesses are a potential issue in any CNMI jury trial, and it is common practice for counsel to have a local consultant familiar with various family relationships present at jury selection to point out these kinds of things. And if anything was missed then, you'd think it would be noticed and pointed out by someone during the course of the trial.

Also: Although I'm not as "offended" by Lujan's racial angle as a lot of people are, something about it rings false. It may be that, as a Guamanian, Lujan is assuming that race relations and attitudes are the same in the CNMI as on Guam, whereas the racial dynamic here has actually developed quite differently.

Anonymous said...

They fail to do another illustration showing how the jurors are also related to the Defendants and their family. They will find that many are also related to the Defendants. Tough situation in the CNMI. What it boils down to is whether there was compelling evidence to put the conviction through. In this case, no type of relationship could have escaped the evidence on the table. Tough for the immediate families to deal with, especially since they have kids who really have nothing to do with their parents actions that will be effected. Any loophole that may pose a glint of opportunity to change the verdict will be capitalized on.

Anonymous said...


Don't forget that Tim is also attacking the jury as well right now. He is accusing them of falsely convicting him due to familial connections. Talk about being a hypocrite.

The Jurors - They were all second cousins or further removed. The one first cousin was bumped from the jury. So the relationship defense won't hold water. Both sides got a list of potential jurors and were given ample time to find reasons to disqualify any of them. Many were disqualified. the remaining Jurors were ACCEPTED by both sides prior to the commencement of the trial. It didn't go Tim's way. Don't come back now and say no fair.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous above, you make a good point. And let's look at Timmy's family relations with his crook sister and crook brother in law. Not only is Timmy a crook, he is a whining crook who wants to get away with it.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous above The Teacher

Great points.

When I read the declaration by Janet Maratita, I couldn't believe that they were actually complaining about seating. I was also amazed to hear the phrase, "Go with the local mango" that was used. What he was saying is, "We have no defense. The evidence is overwhelming, so do what locals often do. Support your fellow local, right or wrong just because he is a local." What an insult to the members of the jury. Villagomez could have had Greg Cruz as his attorney if he knew that the defense argument was going to be support the local mango. That may have worked in the past, but too many people are fed up now. Enough is enough! As for calling he FBI agent a "she-wolf" that's another typical local defense. If someone is right, but you disagree with them, then call them names and put them down. The ultimate local weapon is to take away someone's job. Bet they complained to her superiors too. Like Fitial who wrote to DOI about the ombudsman because he had no argument but didn't like what Benedetto said.

Anonymous said...

Janet Maratita was mad cuz the causasion marshalls wouldn't let her go out to play poker and come back in.