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    Sunday, September 22, 2019-10:46:36A.M.






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Regional News

Motion to disqualify Malsol’s lawyer denied

KOROR (Palau Horizon) – The Supreme Court’s Trial Division has denied the government’s motion to disqualify Kassi Berg, Lucius Malsol’s lawyer saying the Republic has not met its burden to establish that disqualification is required.

Associate Justice Alexandra F. Foster denied Assistant Attorney General Ronald Ledgerwood’s motion to disqualify Berg as counsel for Malsol without prejudice.

Foster in her four-page order on Tuesday said that disqualification is a “drastic measure” and “caution must be exercised to guard against motion to disqualify being used as tools for harassment.”

The government filed a motion to disqualify Berg and cited three reasons: That Berg is likely to be called as material witness because of her interview with James Dugan, Malsol’s co-defendant in CR 09-193; that her interview with Dugan conflicts her out of the case and because Rule 5 of the Palau Rules of Admission should not apply to Berg.

Berg in her response to the motion stated that the motion is merely a strategic effort to thwart Malsol’s defense.

Berg said the Attorney General’s Office “is playing fast and loose with this court so that it can deprive Malsol of the opportunity to have competent counsel of his choosing.”

The Supreme Court in denying the motion said that the government’s argument that Berg’s interview of Dugan conflicts her out of the case is “premature.”

The order stated that the government cites no law to maintain its argument. It states only that Berg spoke with Dugan without Dugan’s attorney’s approval and may have gleaned statements contrary to Dugan’s interests.

The Justice added that “at the time of interview, Berg was acting as a private citizen and not as Malsol’s lawyer and while it would have been prudent, or at least courteous to see Dugan’s attorney’s approval, the government cites no law to indicate that it was required.”

On the argument that Rule 5 of the Palau Rules of Admissions for attorneys does not apply to Berg, Foster said that “Berg appears to have complied with all these requirements and the court granted her special appearance in this case on November 18, 2009.”

The Justice added that the government did not provide new information which would cause the court to change its mind.

Malsol, Dugan, Mlib Tmetuchl, Robert Bruce Gray, Luis Arriola, Jose Tito Osias and First Fidelity Bank Inc., were all charged with forgery, cheating, counterfeiting, conspiracy and money laundering for attempting to transfer $22.5 Billions of money to Palau.