Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho yesterday allowed businessman Ho Jin Yoon to have his expert witness in the U.S. mainland testify for him using Skype, a video conferencing application.
Yoon, the 59-year-old owner of three retail stores on Saipan and one retail store in Guam, is facing charges of allegedly sexually abusing a minor girl.
Camacho said he finds it necessary for Yoon to be able to present the testimony of an expert witness by video conference, and that the most efficient manner of doing so is to use Skype in the courtroom.
The judge directed Yoon’s counsel, Richard W. Pierce, to arrange a demonstration of the video-conferencing technology to be used no later than seven days prior to trial.
The jury trial will begin on Sept. 9, 2013.
Yoon asked the court to allow the remote testimony of his expert witness because the cost of having an expert travel to the CNMI is expensive and that there are no experts of the type he is seeking on island.
Yoon argued that in order to defend himself against the charges, he needs to introduce an expert witness to counter the testimony of the government’s experts.
Yoon asserted that the proposed testimony will explain that it is not possible to tell whether penetration took place based on the specific examination conducted by the physician who treated the alleged victim.
Assistant attorney general Chemere McField opposed the motion, arguing that the testimony of Yoon’s expert would be cumulative and that the government’s expert is neutral.
In his order, Camacho said other trial courts in the U.S. have allowed witnesses to testify remotely via Skype in criminal cases.
Camacho said he sees no reason to require the jurors, parties, and court staff to travel to the federal courthouse.
“Instead, in the spirit of eliminating any unjustifiable expense or delay during the trial, this court is open to having the video conference via Skype as a manner of testimony by closed circuit television,” the judge said.
Police arrested Yoon in March 2013 for allegedly sexually abusing a 6-year-old girl. He was released from custody after posting a $50,000 cash bail.