Guam Blue House Trial May Be Split Between Defendants

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Judge accepts counsel’s withdrawal from representing Cha

By Gina Tabonares-Reilly

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, May 23, 2013) – The withdrawal of one of the defendants’ counsel in the five-year-old sex trafficking case may result in a separate trial for Guam Police Department Officers David Manila and Anthony Quenga, detached from Blue House lounge owner Song Ja Cha to avoid prejudices to the two defendants.

Manila and Quenga are pushing for a speedy trial. However, a potential delay might prejudice their rights with the withdrawal of Cha’s attorney, Randall Cunliffe.

Cunliffe had to withdraw from representing Cha after the discovery that there may be a potential conflict of interest with three of the witnesses in the case. The three witnesses are all members of the Guam Police Department and one is a current client of Cunliffe while two were former clients.

Judge Anita Sukola has accepted Cunliffe’s withdrawal and assigned Leslie Travis as the sixth attorney of the Blue House owner. She instructed Atty. Jeffrey Moots, the substituted counsel, to explain to the defendant why Cunliffe withdrew.

Sukola had asked Moots why Cunliffe did not notify the court beforehand about his decision.

The judge has instructed Moots to turn over 3,000 pages of discoveries to Atty. Travis.

She also instructed Atty. John Terlaje, counsel for Quenga, and Atty. George Valdez, counsel for Manila, to review all the list of witnesses and review the 3,000 pages of discoveries.

"Work on it! I want to know that these people are not related to anybody or to me," Judge Sukola stressed.

After the granting of the withdrawal, Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Quan informed the court of his intention to file a motion to sever to try the defendants separately.

Separating the defendants into different trials may cost more money and take more time but is necessary to avoid jeopardizing the speedy trial asserted by two of the defendants.

Atty. Quan is expected to file his motion to sever before May 31, the continuation of the pre-trial conference for the case.

Judge Sukola has been reviewing jury instructions and verdict forms submitted by the parties, with a plan to proceed for trial on the first week of June.

The Superior Court of Guam charged Manila, Quenga and Cha with nine counts of felonious restraints, nine counts of compelling prostitution, 11 counts of promoting prostitution, and two counts of aggravated assault and assault.

Cha has been convicted in federal courts with conspiracy to commit sex trafficking; nine counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion; sex trafficking of a minor; nine counts of coercion and enticement to travel for the purpose of prostitution; and one count of coercion of a minor.

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