PROSECUTOR SEEKS DISQUALIFICATION OF GUAM JUDGE

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HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Dec. 1) – A request for disqualification was filed by the attorney general's office against the local judge who has been assigned to preside over the case against former Governor Carl Gutierrez and former Retirement Fund Director John Rios.

The attorney general's office made the request yesterday to Judge Richard Benson presiding over the trial for three reasons: Gutierrez appointed Benson as a judge; Gutierrez is now a gubernatorial candidate and Benson could stand to be rewarded; and Benson sits on both Supreme and Superior Courts, a situation for which no statutory authority exists, documents state.

Benson dismissed earlier charges against the two men.

Government prosecutors allege that Gutierrez and Rios altered the former governor's retirement status so he could collect more money from the Retirement Fund.

[PIR editor’s note: Gutierrez’s attorney had argued in March 2005 that the case should be dismissed, partly because it was not presented to the grand jury by the prosecuting attorney, and subsequently that the grand jury was not provided with sufficient evidence to support the charges. Judge Benson denied a motion to dismiss the charges in June 2005; however, the two former GovGuam officials were acquitted of the charges in July. The changes made to former Governor Gutierrez’s retirement status boosted his retirement annuity by more than US$30,000 a year.]

December 1, 2005

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

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