One election down, another on its way, and the elephant in the room that two remaining contenders for attorney general must wrestle with: the plight of Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio, now that a criminal complaint has been brought against him by the Attorney General’s Prosecution Division.
The countdown is on, with less than 50 days to the Nov. 6 general election. And just one month before it, Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio must answer to four criminal misdemeanor charges at the Superior Court of Guam. And with the charges in play, stuff just got real!
“What are the next steps going to be for the first hearing?” candidate for attorney general Leevin Camacho asked rhetorically. “They’ll decide whether or not he’ll be able to be out or he’ll be confined. Then they’ll have an arraignment and he’ll enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. And he’ll also decide whether or not he wants to exercise his right to a jury of six. Because it’s a misdemeanor case, that’s the most jurors he will get, six. If it was a felony case, he would get twelve.”
Camacho said the lieutenant governor’s case will shif from judge pro tem to a regular judge at court after the initial hearing on Oct. 3.
Tenorio faces two charges of reckless conduct and one charge each of obstruction of government function and official misconduct—all stemming from Tenorio’s July 7 police gun-grabbing fiasco in Tumon.
“At the arraignment, which will be two hearings from now – that will be whether or not he wants to assert his right to a speedy trial ,” Camacho said. “And if he’s not incarcerated or in custody, he will have to have a trial within 60 days.”
With the next election arriving faster than any anticipated trial’s first day, either Camacho or his opponent, Doug Moylan, could stand to inherit Tenorio’s criminal case as Guam’s next elected attorney general.
But all politics aside, Moylan, who served as Guam’s first elected AG in the early 2000’s, said something greater is at stake than the lieutenant governor’s immediate political career.
“I think he’s in a difficult situation because all of the eyes of Guam are on him. From a defense lawyer’s perspective…I think that the question of what the lieutenant governor will do at this point, he has several options,” Moylan said. “I think three come to mind. The first one is the move to dismiss if there is a basis to do that. Second would be obviously a trial. And the third might be a plea agreement.
“So in criminal cases, more than civil cases, you try to get it right, because a lot is at stake. And when I say a lot, it’s not money that’s at stake, as in civil cases, but an individual’s personal freedom. And we’re all innocent until proven guilty. And the pain from this case is going to be that the individual being charged is asking for people to believe in him to take a very high position in our community. And that’s why I say there’s a political jeopardy at stake, but more so, it’s that personal jeopardy that he’s facing – that ability of the government to take away the freedom that Mr. Ray Tenorio is entitled to. He’ll have that opportunity to prove his innocence in court.”