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Ministry of Justice
Serial No. PR -17-023
July 12, 2017
Case Dismissal – ROP v. Inis Remoket
Upon request of the Minister of Justice, the following is provided to assist the public in understanding case dismissals and the considerations that accompany filing and/or dismissing criminal charges.
The First principle to understand is the governing concept that a prosecutor occupies a unique position in the legal framework. Whereas all other attorneys are tasked solely with zealously advocating for their client’s interests, the prosecution has a much more ambiguous responsibility to not merely seek conviction, but to see that justice is done. This responsibility is reflected in the Rules that govern filing a case and the discretion that a Prosecutor exercises in case disposition.
The second principle that needs to be understood is the presumption of innocence and burden of proof. A person is presumed innocent and cannot be arrested by police without some basis for doing so: this level of proof required of police arrest is referred to as “probable cause.” Probable Cause has been defined by some courts as “facts or circumstances that would lead a reasonable person to believe a crime has been committed and that the person arrested committed a crime.” There are actually a number of these levels of proof in the legal system, with the lowest level labeled “reasonable suspicion” and the highest level of proof labeled, “beyond a reasonable doubt;” probable cause falls somewhere between these two levels. While a person may be arrested based on probable cause, conviction of a criminal offense requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt as follows:
Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is proof that leaves you firmly convinced the defendant is guilty. A reasonable doubt based upon reason and common sense and is not based upon and common sense and is not based purely on speculation. It may arise from a careful and impartial consideration of all evidence, or from lack of evidence. If after a careful and impartial consideration of all evidence, you are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty, it is your duty to find the defendant not guilty.
This discrepancy between levels of proof leads to the practical result where a person arrested for a crime may not be tried for that offense, since a mere arrest requires such a lower proof threshold.
Jaycee Ochob was last seen in the Republic of Palau around September 18, 2016, but her disappearance was not noted until almost a month late. After an extensive investigation, police submitted an affidavit of probable cause to support an information and arrest warrant for her estranged husband, Inis Remoket, Mr. Remoket was charged with Murder in the Second Degree, or in the alternative Manslaughter. After some preliminary matters, the matter was set for trial to commence July 11, 2017. On June 20, 2017, the defense filed a Motion to dismiss alleging a lack of probable cause to support the information, or charging instrument. This motion was denied by the Court, which found there was probable cause and also finding the motion to be untimely.
In preparation for trial, however, after a careful thorough review of the evidence under the greater scrutiny of reasonable doubt, the case prosecutor determined the matter should not proceed to trial and the case was dismissed upon motion by prosecutor on June 28, 2017. This action was in accordance with the American Bar Association Standards for Prosecutors, Standard 3-3.9(a), which mandate in the prosecutor “should not permit the continued pendency of criminal charges in the absence of sufficient admissible evidence to support a conviction.” Since the matter was dismissed before trial, the dismissal is “without prejudice”, meaning charges could still be filed again at anytime with the statute of limitations. In the case of Murder, there is no time limitation in which to file a charge.