By Peter Santos
As part of our Professional Responsibility, Lawyers everywhere, including Guam, have an ethical duty of being competent to handle the cases they take on. This duty is the VERY FIRST RULE in the American Bar system.
Rule 1.1: Competence
A lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.
In order to comply with this very basic rule, a lawyer must be able to recognize when they are in over their head, and must either seek a competent co-counsel or become competent themselves.
This duty and responsibility, and therefore potential malpractice liability, extends to those lawyers who supervise other lawyers.
Does this rule and potential liability therefore extend to the Attorney General of Guam? I would say very much so, and to an even greater degree.
When the Attorney General is not competent, ie. doesn’t know what he doesn’t know, and then neglects to, or even worse refuses to seek competent assistance or become competent, it’s not just one client or a few client that suffers, it’s the entire Island of Guam that suffers.
There is overwhelming evidence that Attorney General Leevin Camacho is not competent in carrying out the duties in the area of criminal prosecution. He has driven away the best, most dedicated, most experienced prosecutors because of his mismanagement and lack of understanding of what is required by the prosecutors to fulfill their duties competently and in compliance with their professional duty as attorneys. Several prosecutors have fled the office under Leevin Camacho because they refuse to continue to commit malpractice.
There is a former Attorney General who is also a former U.S. Attorney who is currently in the prosecution division, who has been there for a few years, who Leevin Camacho refuses to engage and consult with regard to the operations of the prosecution division and supervision of the brand new attorneys who are drowning and overwhelmed.
Normally, lawyers are sanctioned by the Supreme Court when they violate their professional ethical duties and responsibilities. In the case of Leevin Camacho, it’s the People of Guam who must sanction him and ensure he does not continue to be irresponsible and willfully violate his duty of competence to prosecute crime on behalf of the people of Guam.
Peter J. Santos is from the village of Agat and is a former Guam Police Officer, U.S. Army JAG, former local prosecutor, and currently an Assistant Alternate Public Defender (Criminal Defense Attorney)