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Judge reschedules Vicente Basa’s preliminary hearing

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SUPERIOR Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho has granted the motion of the Public Defender’s Office to continue on Sept. 30 at 10 a.m. the preliminary hearing for Vicente Sablan Basa who is accused of trying to run over another man with a car last month.

The judge on Wednesday said he will also issue a written order “very soon” on the defendant’s request for tangible materials for the preliminary hearing.

Police said Basa, 68, tried to run over a man with a car and repeatedly rammed a parked vehicle in Kagman 3.

Basa was charged with disturbing the peace, assault and battery, assault with a dangerous weapon, reckless driving, driving under the influence, and criminal mischief.

The PDO asked the court to order the Office of the Attorney General to produce all notes, police reports, and videos taken by the government in the case.

Assistant AG Steve Kessell, for his part, said the court lacks jurisdiction to continue the preliminary hearing.

Citing the CNMI rules of criminal procedure, Kessell said a defendant is entitled to a preliminary hearing examination and “such examination shall be held within a reasonable time, but…not later than 10 days following the initial appearance.”

Basa appeared for a bail hearing on Aug. 4, 2010.

Kessell said Judge Camacho, in a previous ruling, “view[ed] the 10-day limit in…Rule 5.1 as jurisdictional” and should therefore decline a request for a preliminary examination made after that initial 10-day period because the court has lost its jurisdiction to grant such request, the assistant AG added.

Citing the ruling in CNMI v. Philip Manuel Pangelinan Roberto, Kessel said Judge Camacho noted that even though the defendant was in custody and consented to having the preliminary hearing beyond the 10-day period, the court was “simply…unable to entertain this request as it was not made within the 10 days listed in Rule 5.1.”

Kessell said on Sept. 9, 2020, a hearing was held on the PDO request for tangible materials used to establish probable cause.

He said Judge Camacho orally directed the government to provide the requested tangible materials and stated that a written order would follow.

According to Kessell, the government stated that it would wait until it received a copy of the written order before taking further action.

But Judge Camacho again rescheduled the preliminary hearing, this time for Sept. 16 “without showing that extraordinary circumstances existed and that delay was indispensable to the interest of justice as required and beyond the 10-day limit set by the Rule 5.1,” Kessell said.

“The fact that a written order has not yet been filed is not the fault of the government nor is it a reason to delay further the preliminary hearing in this case,” he added.

“Notwithstanding any rights of the defendant,” Kessell said, “the victims in this case — the person whose car was stolen then demolished by the defendant, the persons nearly run down by the defendant, the person whose parked car was demolished by the defendant — have the right to have these proceedings move forward in a timely manner consistent with the procedural rules of this court and the laws of the Commonwealth.”

Kessel said unnecessary delays deny them this right and is deserving of equal consideration of the court.

 

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