Douglas Moylan’s first day back as the elected attorney general of Guam can’t come soon enough. With Mr. Moylan’s election came hope that corruption finally will be prosecuted. That consumers actually will be protected. And most especially, that law and order will be restored.
Guam Police Department officers are in hot pursuit of a man, who rushed into QMart in Talofofo Tuesday and shot the store attendant in the midst of robbery. He ran back into the passenger side of a double-cab white Toyota truck, and the truck fled. The running joke is that it may be better for police to capture the suspects after the new year. That’s because Doug Moylan will replace Leevin Camacho at 8:30 a.m. on January 2, 2023, leaving no room for a Camacho-style plea deal once Mr. Moylan is back at the helm.
And criminal justice is no joke to Doug.
Kandit – from January to August this year – tracked the magistrates complaints the Office of the Attorney General of Guam pursued against defendants accused of violent crime. By mid-August, there were 346. Many of those charges were reduced or dropped via plea bargain. Leevin Camacho gave a suspect in an aggravated assault case a free pass from jail even though his fingerprints were all over the gun in that case, and in a related murder case. He even gave sex offenders deals.
We tracked these violent crimes magistrates until it was simply too cumbersome to do so. For months, day in and day out, we checked the court calendar each day for updates on every single one of these cases. More than 90 percent of the time, hearings on these cases were postponed. We asked the OAG, which has a dedicated public information officer, for assistance in simply receiving updates from the prosecution division on where each case was in the criminal justice system. The OAG’s spokesperson told us that, despite these being public information and the fact that the OAG produced and received all of the updates on each of these cases, Mr. Camacho’s office would not help us to inform the public of the status of these cases.
They wanted us to go through the tedious process of requesting the court’s clerk to daily look up each of these cases, and provide us with the documented updates. The court charges a four dollar research fee for each case you request them to look up, and one dollar per page for release of updates. Imagine that: The OAG wanted us to pay $1,384 per day in research fees alone so that we could see public documents that would show what kind of work the OAG was doing on behalf of Guam’s citizens who survive the crime problem each day.
Imagine how many more violent crime defendants are back home, or on the streets, and committing more crime since our tracking stopped.
The man who shot the Talofofo store attendant likely didn’t become violent overnight. He very likely has an existing criminal record. There’s a probability he’s one of this year’s violent crime offenders, but on pre-trial release.
Leevin Camacho, when he was defending his record during the campaign, blamed judges for the releases. But Kandit did more than simply track these cases. We listened in on the hearings we were able to catch. And what we found was astonishing.
Some cases were dismissed because prosecutors didn’t show up, or weren’t prepared. In several hearings, judges were waiting for prosecutors to show up. The presiding judge himself lectured several prosecutors; at one point lecturing, “I don’t know what’s going on over there (the AG’s office)…” but it was evident the OAG was unprepared to take several cases to trial.
Prosecutors and former prosecutors told Kandit the problem was Leevin Camacho; that he simply didn’t care about the prosecution division. He refused to give it more resources. He unethically leaned on prosecutors to charge certain cases, no matter concerns with sufficient probable cause. He just wanted the media attention, several of his employees and former employees said. An exodus of prosecutors, including lead sex crimes prosecutor Christine Tenorio ensued because of Mr. Camacho’s bad management and politics.
We’re seeing some of these cases unfold in court, and it hasn’t been pretty for the OAG. Trials involving the infamous Red Jeep – Jerry’s Kitchen scandal, and the assault of Brian Mendiola have begun, and it’s becoming clear as day that either the OAG charged the wrong person in both cases, or prosecutors charged cases without they can’t prove.
Mr. Moylan has vowed to concentrate resources and attention on the prosecution division, and to engage the media and the public on crime-fighting efforts. He said he wants to lead a transparent operation that assists the community in understanding where cases are in the criminal justice system. He wants to be held accountable for his duty to the public.
And, honestly, the day he returns to office can’t come soon enough.