Mantanona asks for recusal of judge

District Court of Guam (PNC file photo)

The former local and federal law enforcement officer who is accused of smuggling drugs and tampering with the jury in the trial of Juanita Moser and Raymond Martinez is now asking that District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood be disqualified from overseeing the case.

Meanwhile, the government is asking the court to take a second look at John “Boom” Mantanona’s release.

The motion for recusal of Chief Judge Tydingco-Gatewood is on the grounds that the Chief Judge outlined “compelling evidence” of alleged juror tampering by Mantanona in a written decision as it relates to the second trial of the alleged drug smuggling couple Moser and Martinez.

Court documents state, “Her conclusion was based on review of certain exhibits related to cross-motions to dismiss a matter where Mantanona allegedly assisted as defense investigator and a separate proceeding for removal of certain defendants.”

Following this, court documents state that the District Court of Guam grand jury returned an indictment on Mantanona charging him with three counts of obstructing justice as a result of the jury tampering.

Because the Chief Judge has personal knowledge of the disputed evidentiary facts and exhibits, Mantanona argues that federal mandate prevents Tydingco-Gatewood from presiding as a judge in his case.

Court documents state, “because she was a witness to the underlying proceeding and further because there is an appearance she harbors prejudice against Mantanona for allegedly affecting a criminal trial before her.”

The alleged juror tampering in the drug smuggling case resulted in Chief Judge Tydingco-Gatewood dismissing the indictment against Moser and Martinez without prejudice saying, “In the event this case is returned to Guam, the court will consider sequestering the jury because of the evidence of jury tanpering.”

Martinez and Moser are awaiting a third trial in California.

The motion for recusal is not the only development in the case. It appears that the government wants Mantanona back behind bars. Also filed today, was a motion by Mantanona opposing the government’s motion for review of order of release. According to court documents, a release order for Mantanona was received by the court on June 26.

District Court Magistrate Judge Joaquin Manibusan, according to Mantanona, reviewed the recommendation for release and determined that Mantanona’s release on stringent conditions would minimize any risks of nonappearance and danger to the community.

Court documents state that the government is basing their motion on “the weight of the evidence against the defendant.” However, Mantanona argues that “the government fails to meet the burden of persuasion. The government also fails to appreciate that in the Ninth Circuit, the weight of evidence is the least important of the various factors concerning release pending trial.”

He further says, “there is no basis or need to revisit Magistrate Judge Manibusan’s sound legal conclusions and order setting for conditions for release.”