Guam Blue House Owner Assigned New Defense

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Song Ja Cha’s 7th lawyer revealed potential conflict of interest

By Gina Tabonares-Reilly

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, June 7, 2013) – On Guam, Song Ja Cha, the Blue House lounge owner, will be represented by a new lawyer after her seventh court-appointed defense attorney withdrew from the five-year-old case due to conflict of interest.

Cha, who is facing a prostitution case with two policemen – David Q. Manila and Anthony Quenga – will have Atty. Julian Aguon as her eighth lawyer after Atty. Mark Smith advised the court that his mother is related to the mother of defendant Quenga.

Judge Anita Sukola said the court has exhausted the court appointment felony listing and has now started tapping the general panel of attorneys who are members of the Guam Bar Association.

The court started the selection alphabetically, resulting in the selection of Atty. Aguon.

Most criminal defendants are represented by court-appointed lawyers who are paid for by the government because most defendants can’t afford to hire their own private attorneys. When defendants are considered to be legally indigent, the court is constitutionally required to provide them with legal representation at the government's expense.

Cha’s next court date is scheduled for July 1 to give Atty. Aguon time to review all the 3,000 pages of information on the case.

Cha, who has waived her right to a speedy trial, will be tried separately because Manila and Quenga, her two co-defendants, asserted for a speedy trial.

Speedy trial

The speedy trial assertion is the subject of the appeal filed by Manila’s lawyer, Terry Timblin, who filed a writ of mandamus before the Supreme Court.

Atty. Timblin filed a third motion to modify the release condition of his client.

In the midst of pending appeals, Judge Sukola assured that Manila and Quenga will have a speedy trial as she instructed both parties to be on standby alert and be prepared to come back today at 11 a.m. for the continuation of pre-trial proceedings.

"I am confident that the Supreme Court will make a decision very soon. For that reason I want you all to be on alert everyday until the Supreme Court issues a decision. Should I hear anything, I will call you for continued pre-trial proceedings," Sukola said.

In the event the Supreme Court issues a favorable decision to the court, Judge Sukola wants to start a jury selection by today at 1:30 p.m.

When Quenga’s newly-appointed counsel, Atty. Sylvia Stake, said there’s a conflict with her schedule and that the court still has enough days for the case, Judge Sukola reacted fiercely and said: "You know what, Ms. Stake, I’m not going to. I’m not the one delaying anything. And when the defendants insist on a speedy trial, they’re gonna get it and I’m not gonna wait for the last day."

The Blue House case has been delayed due to a number of factors, including counsel substitutions and several motions filed in the lower and higher courts by the defense counsels. Cha has been convicted in federal court 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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