ATTORNEY Anthony Aguon has asked the Superior Court to dismiss the case against his client, Lucas Taitano Manglona, whose due process and speedy trial rights have been violated, the lawyer said.

Manglona was identified by police as the person responsible for damaging different cars in separate incidents.

Manglona, 43, was charged with tampering with a vehicle and vandalism.

Aguon said, on Sept. 23, 2020, his client waived his right to a preliminary hearing. A consolidation of cases followed during which the parties informed the court that they were working toward a non-trial disposition of the case.

On Feb. 8, 2021, Aguon filed a motion to determine Manglona’s competency to stand trial, which was granted by Presiding Judge Roberto C. Naraja who ordered the defendant to undergo a psychiatric evaluation at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.

The judge also ordered a CHCC psychiatrist or other qualified mental health professional to file a written report to the clerk of court within 60 days of the April 10 order.

To this date, Aguon said, Manglona has remained under the custody of the Department of Corrections, and has yet to undergo any CHCC psychiatric evaluation.

“CHCC has also failed to file any written report,” Aguon added.

After further inquiry with CHCC, he learned from its legal counsel that “CHCC does not provide competency evaluations as one of its services.”

Since September 2020, the defendant has been in the Department of Corrections, and is still waiting to undergo a CHCC psychiatric evaluation, Aguon said.

“CHCC also has not filed any written report on the matter. Further, to the best of the undersigned counsel's knowledge, there are no other qualified mental healthcare professionals on island who are able to provide this evaluation to defendant.”

According to the lawyer, the court may not criminally proceed in this case until or unless the defendant is found legally competent.

To proceed against an incompetent defendant, or to keep a defendant in jail indefinitely, is a due process violation, Aguon said.

“Due to the inability to conduct a mental competency test pursuant to the Commonwealth law, and in order to protect his constitutional due process rights, defendant should be released unconditionally and the court should dismiss this case in its entirety,” Aguon added.

“In the alternative, the court should at the very least release defendant immediately from [Corrections] pending the completion of mental competency evaluation as required by law,” the lawyer said.

Reporter

Bryan Manabat studied criminal justice at Northern Marianas College. He covers the community, tourism, business, police and court beats.

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