Opinion: The attorney general is lying about the prosecution crisis

By Peter J. Santos

Dear People of Guam, and especially the Senators of Guam, I implore you, pay attention to this. There is a crisis that the People of Guam is being lied to and mislead about. That crisis is the fact that the Prosecution Division at the Office of the Attorney General’s Office is on life support.

Leevin Camacho and his deputies lied to the Legislature about the current situation up at the prosecution division. He told the Legislature that there are 15 prosecutors at the division and that there is no need to worry or be concerned. The real truth is that 3 of the 15 are literally not there, 1 resigned, 2 are on long term military orders and have been for the last couple of years. It’s even more misleading than that, of the 2 that are on military orders, 1 attorney has never spent a minute at prosecution, he was “transferred” there while he was on military orders, parked there as a placeholder and will not be at prosecution when he returns from military duty (I personally know Duane Sablan and have spoken to him about this and he unequivocally will not be going back as a prosecutor if he go’s back at all). So that makes 12 physical bodies at prosecution. Of the 12 prosecutors, 2 aren’t working at full capacity due to medical reasons, and 2 are contracted retired attorney with limited duty only to perform magistrates hearings and grand jury presentations. So only 8 prosecutors actually carry case loads. Of the 8 that carry case loads, 6 are brand new attorneys so only 2 attorneys can competently take serious cases to trial. However the new attorneys are taking felony cases to trial and losing the vast majority of them.

How did we get here? Toxic leadership and mismanagement. There used to be many more trained, seasoned, experienced trial attorneys at prosecution division. They fled the office even though they tried to stay as long as they possibly could. Dedicated People who take the effort to go to college and then law school and serve as prosecutors for very little pay, don’t leave the job as a prosecutor just because. These are highly skilled warriors and public servants with the highest sense of public duty and service. These people flee from bad bosses and toxic environments. Leevin has never ran a large organization and have very little trial experience. He has no law enforcement experience or no military experience. He surrounded himself with deputies who likewise have none the experience I just mentioned. He surrounded himself with “yes” people and doesn’t listen to people who raise legitimate issues, and he exiles anyone who disagrees with him.

The heads of the Public Defender and the Alternate Public Defender (the government defense attorneys) have been doing their jobs a lot longer and there has never been a mutiny under their leadership.

On August 31st at the Guam Chamber of Commerce AG Forum, Leevin again pointed out that there are 15 prosecutors and painted a picture that everything was going great. This demonstrates that he is out of touch or doesn’t care about what’s going on. On September 2, 2022 when I commented on a Pacific Daily News Facebook post about the situation and about Leevin misleading the People of Guam, Leevin responded and posted his staffing pattern:

“Peter J. Santos I would not normally respond to your lies, but enough is enough. The staffing pattern is publicly available online, easy to verify. At this point, unfortunately, it’s not surprising that you’re ignoring facts.

I’m sorry things did not work out for you at the AG’s office, but please – this is getting embarrassing”

Leevin is absolutely correct, it is getting embarrassing, for him. The reason things didn’t work out for me at the Attorney General’s office, and for all the other folks that fled since he took over, is because of toxic leadership and lack of caring about the duty to competently prosecute crimes on behalf of the people of Guam. The reason I personally left the office is because there was an illegal promotion that was never publicly announced and there was not competition. It was done in the dark of night. I inquired about the illegal promotion and the deputies all blamed HR. Really? I asked to speak to Leevin but was always put off. I initiated a grievance about it and faced reprisals. My hard drive was confiscated and searched. I had nothing to hide, but I decided that I cannot work at place anymore that does these kinds of things, so I left. Yes, it’s unfortunate that it didn’t work out for me. It’s unfortunate for the People of Guam that Leevin allows this kind of things to push away the dedicated, experienced, and capable prosecutors.

At the Chamber of Commerce forum, Leevin blamed the judges and the situation at DOC as to why criminals are being released. That is like blaming your professor for a failing grade. The judge is not the one who has a duty to gather the facts and evidence, draft the charging documents, and argue the case. The judge is doing their jobs, prosecution is failing to do theirs. It is SHAMEFUL to blame the judges. You can’t see that you need to do better? This demonstrates you are a non-leader. Leaders take ownership and responsibility and FIX the problem. I submit that part of the overcrowding at DOC is due to the very slow movement at prosecution. There are many non-violent people sitting in jail, most of who don’t violate their release conditions when they are released, who are waiting weeks and even months for a simple document from the prosecution so that they may be released.

Two weeks ago, 4 magistrate complaints got dismissed because the writing was so terrible that the judge couldn’t make any sense of it and it ultimately failed to demonstrate probable cause. Last week 2 magistrates were dismissed. And that’s only what I saw, I only cover magistrates hearings a couple times a week. It used to be that a magistrates complaint would get dismissed about once or maybe twice a year. Also, the day of the Chamber of Commerce forum, I was at court right before heading over there. The judge rejected a plea agreement because it called for a 1 year sentence but the statute has a 5 year minimum mandatory for that particular charge. The prosecutor missed that major requirement. So can Leevin tell us again how it’s the judges’ fault?

I know all these things because I work with all the prosecutors on a daily basis. The Defense Bar suffers from the ineptitude at prosecution. Judges regularly chastise prosecutors because they are unprepared or unfamiliar with the cases and haven’t filed their documents, many of which had already been ordered by the court.

All of what I am saying is all very verifiable. Senators and the public, just ask any attorney who practices criminal law on Guam to read this letter and tell you if any of what I say is inaccurate. I will buy you lunch if you bring that attorney to me and prove me wrong.

Disclaimer, I don’t endorse any candidate, my only concern as a whistleblower is to get prosecution fixed. Leevin is in denial an, just like a drug addict, you cannot fix the problem if you deny there is one.

My message to Leevin, Come On Sir, you say you love Guam. If this is true, then do better. Do your job. People are suffering, hurting, and being killed due in large part to your prosecution division’s ineptitude. Your prosecution division is in shambles because you have allowed your deputies to play politics and push out the dedicated prosecutors. After the first couple of prosecutors left, you should have noticed something’s wrong. But after more than a dozen, you still can’t see the problem?

Peter J. Santos is a Defense Attorney on Guam, former Guam Police Officer, former Army JAG, former Adjunct Criminal Justice instructor for Central Texas College, former Military Magistrate, and former Guam Prosecutor.


  • Old saying:

    “When the cat’s away, the mice will play”

    Bring back the cat! Vote for Doug Moylan for Attorney General on November 8.

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