Former assistant AG denies alleged courthouse assault

ALLEGATIONS: Screenshot taken of attorney David Highsmith during a virtual hearing before the Supreme Court of Guam on Dec. 2, 2020. Video screenshot

Assistant Public Defender David Highsmith pleaded not guilty to the charges handed down in an indictment filed against him in the Superior Court of Guam.

Highsmith, a former assistant attorney general accused of assaulting another attorney inside the Guam Judicial Center in August 2019, appeared before Magistrate Judge Benjamin Sison on Tuesday.

Defense attorney Michael Phillips told the court that Highsmith asserts his rights to a speedy trial. He also said the case may be resolved soon.

It’s unclear if the parties have reached a plea agreement.

Attorney Clyde Lemons Jr., who was appointed special prosecutor for the Office of the Attorney General, also attended the hearing.

Highsmith was indicted on Nov. 5 with aggravated assault as a third-degree felony, assault as a misdemeanor, reckless conduct as a misdemeanor, and official misconduct as a misdemeanor.

On Aug. 1, 2019, Highsmith, who handled civil litigation, was booked and released on charges of assault following an alleged incident involving attorney Gary Gumataotao.

Gumataotao said he and Highsmith were discussing a case involving a Jet Ski license in Judge Anita Sukola's courtroom. He said he was representing a corporation that had gone bankrupt when Highsmith accused his client of misconduct. Gumataotao contended the case had been dismissed following an agreement between the parties involved.

It was after they both walked out of the courtroom into an area of the Guam Judicial Center that Gumataotao said Highsmith told him "Who do you think you are?" before Highsmith allegedly punched and body slammed him onto the floor. Gumataotao was hospitalized and suffered cracked ribs; a broken wrist; soreness on his side, hip, back and spine; and a concussion.

Highsmith is also appealing his termination before the Civil Service Commission. He contends the punishment against him was "too severe."

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