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    Sunday, July 21, 2019-2:55:36P.M.






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Defense lawyer asks court to sanction former prosecutor and AG’s office

DEFENSE lawyer Bruce Berline on Monday asked the court to sanction a former prosecutor and the Office of the Attorney General for the mistrial in the case of a man accused of rape.

Bruce Berline

Berline requested the Superior Court to find the AG’s office and former prosecutor Teri Tenorio jointly and severally liable for paying him sanctions amounting to $10,000.

In February, Presiding Judge Roberto Naraja declared a mistrial in Manolo Romolor’s case due to prosecutorial misconduct.

Romolor was charged by the AG’s office with one count of sexual assault in the first degree, one count of assault and battery, and one count of disturbing the peace.

Then-Assistant Attorney General Teri Tenorio was the lead prosecutor in the trial that started on Feb. 11.

Berline said his motion for sanction is based on the prosecutor’s “outrageous” misconduct at the trial that forced the court to declare a mistrial.

He said the declaration of mistrial wasted judicial resources, and caused the defense unnecessary expense in the form of attorney’s fees.

Berline said the court has inherent authority to control the proceedings and the authority to impose sanctions upon those that practice before it, including Tenorio and the AG’s office.

He said the court found that the prosecutor was “woefully unprepared and that that the Commonwealth was solely to blame for the mistrial.”

The court, he added, “recognized the Commonwealth’s mishandling of the case from the very beginning.”

Before the trial, Berline said, the prosecutor failed to produce the expert witness multiple times, and persisted in failing to follow the court’s procedural orders.

“Once the trial began, the prosecutor’s misconduct not only continued but became substantially worse,” he added.

The prosecutor’s “courtroom performance failed to rise above that expected of a first-year lawyer,” Berline said. “A veteran prosecutor does not accidently forget how to question or introduce evidence.”

At a status conference on March 18, Assistant AG Samantha Vickery appeared for the government and asked the court to schedule a new trial date.

Judge Naraja said Romolor’s new trial will start on May 13 at 9 a.m.

Berline said “because the government insists on retrying the case, he will have to again prepare for trial, review the trial transcripts, file motions and defend Romolor for the second time.”

Berline said for the previous three-day trial and the drafting and arguing of the motion for mistrial he easily billed over $10,000.

He asked the court to find the prosecutor’s conduct solely responsible and the direct cause of the mistrial.

“It was willful and/or intentional at a minimum, grossly negligent. Such conduct warrants an award of defense attorney’s fees,” he added.