Pre-trial hearing misrepresented by Joe Coffey (Aug 29, 2014)

On Aug 29, 2014, there was a pre-trial hearing for the Luchavez defense motion to quash the charges against them. The hearing was limited to discussing whether or not their arrest was legal. The defense was arguing that the arrest was illegal because no crime was in progress, so the prosecutor asked (p26):

Q: Aside from what you have mentioned, are there any other basis for such apprehension?

A: Yes, I recall saying that when we conducted the raid, we chanced upon houseparent inside the room with orphan, sir.

Q: What did you see or what happened next when you saw a houseparent and an orphan?

A: We started investigating, we started questioning them and the managers, owners and operators of the facility prevented us from conducting further actions with regards to the …

At the end of the hearing (p30), four complainants from Sankey were recognized on the court record. The judge ordered both sides to present written arguments within 60 days.

Later that day, Joe Coffey announced on Twitter:

News frm filipines.all charges dropped against toto and deemed completely unjustified by judge #timeandtruth

To a reporter who asked for his source, Coffey replied:

@SceneSallard Tom heard from his attorneys today regarding the hearing last guess is news won’t cover

But the hearing transcript shows clearly that Coffey’s statement was false. The charges were not dropped. The judge did not deem the raid unjustified.

Joe Mauk also posted a summary of the hearing, quoted in a Sep 3, 2014 news article:

At first the attorneys of the two defendants did not show up. The judge ordered them to be located and they appeared two hours later. We discovered that this is still not the trial. It was a continuation hearing on the defense motion to quash. They were making the argument that the arrest of the two was not proper in procedure. They objected to any testimony being entered as to the abuses reported to be going on but only wanted to prove that the two were not actually committing a crime at the time of the arrest. The only witness called was the NBI agent from the Manila office who organized the raid.

Although the argument about invalid arrest should not apply to institutional abuse/human trafficking cases, they pressed issues like “where were they standing and what were they wearing at the time of the arrest?” At the end of the testimony the judge ordered both sides (the government appointed prosecutor and the privately-hired defense attorneys) to present their final written arguments in a matter of days. After which submission, he would make a ruling on the motion to quash. The prosecutor asked for more time to prepare, the defense agreed to an extension and the judge dictated a memorandum to both attorneys instructing them to present their final written arguments within 60 days.

Why did Coffey post such a demonstrably false tweet? Why didn’t he post a correction? It’s unclear. But what is clear is this: Joe Coffey was not in possession of the facts. Joe Mauk was.

View August 29, 2014 pre-trial hearing transcript