Moylan, Santos tackle Guam's drug problems at realtors' forum
By Aurora Kohn
The attorney general’s function is not that of a chief social worker or any “therapeutic” position in government, former Attorney General Douglas Moylan said.
The chief law enforcement officer’s job is to make sure that drug defendants are taken to courts, and if found guilty “then the appropriate punishment be applied,” said Moylan, who is running for attorney general again.
He said the therapeutic approach does not work as evidenced by the 55 percent failure rate of the adult drug court program created in 2002.
Peter Santos, an attorney at the Alternate Public Defender’s Office, disagreed.
“Drug treatment does work. However, it matters how well it’s employed. What makes a dent in drug abuse prevention as well as interdiction,” said Santos, who is running as a write-in candidate.
While offering different approaches to tackling substance and drug abuse on island, Moylan and Santos agreed that stopping the entry of illegal narcotics into Guam is a key component of solving the problem.
Moylan and Santos presented their plans during a virtual town hall meeting hosted by the Guam Association of Realtors on Thursday.
Attorney General Leevin Camacho, who is seeking reelection, was unable to attend the forum due to a conflict in schedule.
Moylan, who previously held the office from 2003 to 2007, said one of the possible ways that drugs enter the island is through Guam-registered boats that are not checked when they return from the ocean.
It is important for the local government to monitor the ocean surrounding Guam, he said.
“If (the governor) can’t do it with the criminal law enforcement, then mobilize people with the equipment that can actually monitor the oceans, “ Moylan said.
He said every law enforcement officer must be tested for drugs. “People on drugs can infiltrate our law enforcement community," Moylan said. “We know the money is very lucrative and the ability for law enforcement to stay clean must be constantly checked.”
Santos said one of the things that hamper law enforcement is “the distrust between the locals and the feds.”
“I would foster a stronger relationship with the federal government for information sharing,” said Santos.
Santos and Moylan agreed that the Office of Attorney General under Camacho’s leadership has failed in the area of criminal prosecution.
Santos said the problem lies in the “lack of qualified prosecutors” because Camacho has “chased away a dozen at least of qualified prosecutors.”
Moylan said lawyers at the OAG must be prepared to handle both civil and criminal cases.
“I don’t care if you’re a civil lawyer, you will be doing prosecution if the need arises. Whether civil matters are pressing or not will have to be balanced against the more prioritized type of work which is going to be prosecution,” Moylan said. “Doing more with less is what we dealt with back in 2003.”
Moylan also said he would push for the passage of legislation that would give the people of Guam the right to a speedy trial.
“The ability to take a defendant into trial within 25 days of incarceration … is a right that the people of Guam have, not just the defendants,” Moylan said.
Answering the question about his ability to respond to “urgent opinion requests” from government agencies and officers, Moylan said, “When I was attorney general, the department heads, the cabinet members, including the governor had direct access to me as the attorney general. That’s going to be reinstated if I get in again."
He said the attorney general, unlike a district attorney, has a responsibility to ensure that government officials receive the legal guidance as needed and requested.
“There should be no excuse for delayed opinions," Santos said. “When someone poses a question or a request for an answer, you should get a ticket number so it can be tracked. It should be a centralized system, it should be compiled."
Moylan said, if elected, he would bring more lawyers to the AG’s office to ease the caseload being handled by the diminished number of attorneys on staff.
Santos said, if elected, he would tell potential recruits that they would be in a working environment “where you’re going to learn, grow and develop and you’re going to be treated with dignity and respect.”
In a statement issued Friday, Camacho’s campaign team said GAR “did not extend the professional courtesy of coordinating the schedule and confirming attendance for both the candidates.”
The Camacho campaign said, “GAR was informed that AG Camacho would be unable to attend due to a conflict in the schedule that had him on an off-island work trip, fighting for Guam.”
“We asked GAR to reschedule and provided alternative dates AG Camacho could be available only to be later informed that GAR would proceed and that they believed that AG Camacho could submit written answers to their questionnaire as though that were a sufficient substitute for live interaction,” the statement reads.