NMI Judiciary 2010 & 2011 Annual Report

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TN he Judiciary M I ORTHERN


ANNUAL REPORTS 2010 & 2011

Inside Message from Acting Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro


Supreme Court Justices


Superior Court Judges


Events 2010 2011

10 18 10 18

Court Decisions


Law Revision Commission


The Numbers



Progress and Transition


On behalf of the Justices, Judges and members of the Judiciary staff it is my pleasure to present the NMI Judiciary’s Annual Report 2010 and 2011. The fair and unbiased administration of justice remained central to our ambition of service to the people of the Commonwealth during these two years. We have endeavored to find the means to improve the efficiency and accessibility of the justice system. For example, the Judicial Council, formed at the end of 2009, unified Supreme and Superior administrative functions to maintain effective court operations during difficult financial times. We are proud of our recognized achievements and successes; such as, on a national level, the Outstanding Criminal Justice Program Award earned by our Family Court for the assistance it has provided families and pro se litigants. Also, the Office of Adult Probation, in addition to handling the press of their case load, worked with the Legislature to pass Public Law 17-49. This legislation conforms the local sex offender registry law to the requirements of the national registry act, which saved a significant portion of the Judiciary’s annual federal assistance grant from being lost. The Judiciary’s community outreach efforts, undertaken to extend the basic knowledge of government, included scholastic competitions occurring in the spring around Law Week, such as We the People, Mock Trial and the Attorney Generals’ Cup. We expanded the age groups involved in our outreach efforts through the introduction of a Law Day Poster and Essay contest for grade school students of the fifth through eighth grades. Furthermore, the book, The 3

Acting Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro Northern Marianas Judiciary – An Historical Overview, several years in the making, was completed and published. Transition was especially noteworthy in late 2011 when key members of the Judiciary retired or moved on. Sad was the premature retirement of Chief Justice Miguel S. Demapan. Judge Ramona V. Manglona was selected to fill the vacancy at the United States District Court for the Northern Marianas, occurring as a result of the retirement of Chief Judge Alex R. Munson. Joseph N. Camacho was appointed to fill the Associate Judge position she had vacated, and Wayne M. Archiblad, who was instrumental to the Judiciary’s IT evolution and its system administrator for ten years, also retired. When looking back with pride upon 2010 and 2011, I feel the hard working and dedicated staff of the Judiciary deserve special thanks and recognition. Looking forward, I am confident that we will continue to strive for excellence in the fulfillment of our constitutional responsibilities.

Justices of the Commonwealth Supreme Court MIGUEL S. DEMAPAN Chief Justice, Retired (1999-2011)

Supreme Court

Associate Justice (1998-1999) Associate Judge (1992-1998)

ALEXANDRO C. CASTRO Acting Chief Justice (2011 to present) Associate Justice (1998 to 2011) Designated Justice, Guam Supreme Court Presiding Judge, Superior Court (February 1993 to July 1998)

JOHN A. MANGLONA Associate Justice (May 2000 to present) Designated Justice, Guam Supreme Court Associate Judge (July 1998 to May 2000)


Judges of the Commonwealth Superior Court ROBERT C. NARAJA Presiding Judge (March 2003 to present)

Superior Court

Associate Judge (November 2001 to March 2003) Designate Judge, U.S. District Court for the NMI (January 2010 to present)

DAVID A. WISEMAN Associate Judge (March 2001 to present) Designated Judge, U.S. District Court for NMI. (July 2002 to present) Special Judge (September 1995 to March 2001)

RAMONA V. MANGLONA Associate Judge (May 2003 to July 2011)


Judges of the Commonwealth Superior Court KENNETH L. GOVENDO Associate Judge

Superior Court

(June 2003 to present)

PERRY B. INOS Associate Judge (September 2008 to present)

JOSEPH N. CAMACHO Associate Judge (November 2011 to present)



Judiciary Staff

Jennifer Dockter Daniel C. Stafford Jeffrey B. El-Hajj Charlotte S. Sanders Daniel F. Bednarski Steven W. Gardiner Seth L. Gordon Daniel T. Guidotti Michael A. Stanker Nora V. Borja Irene T. San Nicolas Martha B. Mendiola

Clerk of Court Clerk of Court * Law Clerk Law Clerk Law Clerk Law Clerk * Law Clerk * Law Clerk * Law Clerk * Secretary Secretary Secretary


Special Assistant to the Presiding Judge; Deputy Director of Courts Law Clerk Law Clerk Law Clerk Law Clerk Law Clerk * Law Clerk * Secretary to Assoc. Judge Secretary to Assoc. Judge Secretary to Presiding Judge * Secretary to Assoc. Judge * Secretary to Assoc. Judge * Accountant II Account Clerk II

Deanna M. Manglona Eden L. Schwartz Pejman D. Kharrazian Sean E. Smith Michael Wilt Jordan A. Davis Vivian S. Dela Cruz Ignatia C. Aldan Mary Lou C. Villagomez Divana M. Dela Cruz Cecilia R. Sablan Evelyn P. Calvo Jason D. Kelley

(* indicates departure from the Judiciary prior to the end of 2011)


Judiciary Administrative Office

Judiciary Staff

Tracy M. Guerrero Michael C. Villacrusis Wayne M. Archibald Gene E. Weaver Jim W. Stowell Rose Lynette M. Camacho John J. Demapan Steven S. Cabrerra Raymond C. Babauta Anthony P. Benavente Jesus S. Santos Juan E. K. Atalig Gideon S. Kikku Luis H. Hocog Roemar Miras Segotier Manuel Q. Tenorio Cindy D. Serrano Benusto M. Lisua Froilan M. Camacho Jr. Frankie S. Camacho Jeffrey F. Castro Quaid O. Ngirchongor Eugene Tenorio

Director of Courts Systems Administrator Systems Administrator * Building Superintendent Public Information Officer Assistant Clerk of Court Computer Specialist 1 Administrative Assistant Maintenance Chief Marshal Deputy Marshal III Deputy Marshal II Deputy Marshal I Deputy Marshal- Rota * Deputy Marshal -Tinian * Marshal Intern * Marshal Intern * arshal Intern * Marshal Intern * Marshal Intern * Marshal Intern * Marshal Intern * Marshal Intern *

Office of the Clerk of the Superior Court Bernadita A. Sablan Theodora S. Decena Roxanne M. Weaver Kristy N. Diaz Luis S. Villagomez Daisy S. Mendiola George M. Lisua Rosie Jane T. Ada Sabrina Lynn Dela Cruz Winnifreda Dlg Mendiola Glenn L. Maratita Marleen E. Santos Dexter D.C. Macaranas Abelinas S. Romolar


Clerk of Court Deputy Clerk III Deputy Clerk II Deputy Clerk I Deputy Clerk I Deputy Clerk I Deputy Clerk I Deputy Clerk I Deputy Clerk I Deputy Clerk I Rota* Deputy Clerk I - Rota Deputy Clerk I - Tinian Records Assistant * Records Assistant *

Family Court Division Patrick V. Diaz Nikita E. M. Cabrera

Family Court Manager Project Assistant

Commonwealth Recorder’s Office

Judiciary Staff

Luise S. Deleon Guerrero Michelle L. Atalig

Commonwealth Recorder Administrative Assistant (Rota)

Office of Adult Probation Ursula I. Lifoifoi-Aldan Simram D. Simram Juan R. Aguon Shirley Camacho-Ogumoro Oscar C. Torres Jose L. Mafnas Prisillia S. Cabrera Tersha T. Tesiro Barbara K. Santos

Chief Probation Officer Probation Officer III Probation Officer II Probation Officer II Probation Officer I Probation Officer I Assistant Probation Officer Assistant Probation Officer * Probation Clerk III

Law Revision Commission Heather L. Kennedy Janet H. King Brian P. O’Laughlin Ian M. Catlett Albert A. Hicking Janet R. Labios

Executive Director Staff Attorney Staff Attorney * Staff Attorney * Executive Assistant Publications Clerk

(* departure from the Judiciary prior to the end of 2011)


Law and the Freshman Legislator Law Week Retiring Chief Judge Alex R. Munson Honored

Events 2010

Summer Pre-Law Program Family Court Program Wins Award Tracy M. Guerrero Henry Toll Fellowship Alumni Austerity


Law and the Freshman Legislator On January 7, 2010, the Commonwealth Judiciary and the Northern Marianas Judicial Historical Society presented its biennial “Law and the Freshman Legislator” program. It was condensed civics course, which included an overview of the judiciary process and an interactive dialogue especially designed and timed for the representatives and senators-elect prior to their assumption of newly elected duties.

Events 2010

Eleven freshman legislators-elect attended: Senator-elect Francisco Cruz, Representativeselect Ramon Basa, Eliceo Cabrera, George Camacho, Trenton Conner, Frederick Deleon Guerrero, Rafael Demapan, Sylvestre Iguel, Felicidad Ogumoro, Joseph Palacios, and Edmund Villagomez. Presenters at the half day conference were CNMI Supreme Court Chief Justice Miguel S. Demapan, Associate Justice Alexandro C. Castro, Associate Justice John A. Manglona, Associate Judge Romona V. Manglona, and Heather Kennedy, Executive Director Law Revision Commission. The new legislators and presenters were joined for a working luncheon / round table discussion by Associate Judges Perry B. Inos, David A. Wiseman and Kenneth L. Govendo.


CNMI Judiciary Celebrates Law Week The

Events 2010

(Above: Mount Carmel High School Senior Mock Trial Winners - 2010.)

Judiciary celebrated LAW WEEK 2010 on April 29th with a Proclamation Signing and Recognition Award Ceremony in the Supreme Court Courtroom at the Guma Hustisia, Iimwal Aweewe, House of Justice, in Susupe. Recognition awards were presented to the youth of our community who were the winners and outstanding participants in the recent Mock Trial competitions and the Covenant Day Debates. (Pictured at left and below: Junior High School teams from Mount Carmel and Whispering Palms who received certificates of participation.)


Retiring Chief Judge Alex R. Munson honored by CNMI Justices and Judges Retiring Chief Judge Alex R. Munson was honored on Tuesday, February 23, 2010, at a special luncheon hosted by CNMI justices and judges. The gathering commemorated Judge Munson’s twenty eight years of service in the legal community and his retirement from the United States District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands on February 28, 2010.

Events 2010

On behalf of the CNMI Judiciary, Superior Court Associate Judge David A. Wiseman opened with recognition and appreciation remarks. He spoke to the special nurturing of professional relations in the legal community Judge Munson had facilitated through his service. Moreover, Judge Wiseman remarked that Judge Munson “had dealt with federal litigation that presented unprecedented issues between the federal government and the CNMI, dealing with issues of first impression and doing so as would be expected of a judicial officer possessed with judicial principles of the highest order.” Chief Justice Miguel S. Demapan of the CNMI Judiciary presented a special plaque to Judge Munson, recognizing his dedication, commitment and service to the rule of law and the administration of justice in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marian Islands as Chief Justice of the High Court of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Island from 1982 to 1988 and as Chief Judge of the United States District Court of the Northern Mariana Islands from 1988 to 2010.


Supreme Court Conducts Summer Pre-Law Program 2010 During July, the Supreme Court con-

Events 2010

ducted its Summer Pre-Law Program 2010. The intensive program, started in 1991, is designed for those interested in applying to law school and is intended to familiarize participants with the rigorous demands of the first year of law school. Robert Desiderio, former Dean of the University of New Mexico School of Law, and Professor Rose Cuison-Villazor of Hofstra University School of Law served as instructors for the program. Dean Desiderio has previously taught in the program and has been instrumental in getting participants to attend and graduate from law school. Professor Cuison-Villazor, who grew up on Saipan and graduated from Mount Carmel School, taught a course in Property Law.

In addition to attending law lectures, participants took part in a series of activities designed to increase their critical thinking and analytical skills. Since inception the program has produced at least 25 lawyers.


NMI Family Court Client Services Wins Outstanding Criminal Justice Program Award Due to its recognized success in

Events 2010

educating people about legal and family court issues, the National Criminal Justice Association honored the Northern Mariana Islands Family Court Client Services (FCCS) Program with its Outstanding Criminal Justice Program Award at the National Forum on Criminal Justice and Public Safety, Aug. 1-3 in Ft. Myers, Florida.

Pictured above are: Patrick Diaz, Family Court Manager, Nikita Cabrera, Program Assistant, and Family Court Judge Kenneth L. Govendo.

The FCCS Program’s Pro Se Center assists with filing legal forms for indigent litigants. A Separating Parents Program teaches parents about the effects of separation on children, and a Judges’ Training program provides judges with legal education in family issues.

Jerome Ierome, executive director of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Criminal Justice Planning Agency said, “The creation, implementation and ongoing ‘evidence based’ success of the FCCS program exemplifies a good investment of BJA dollars awarded to CNMI. It was overwhelming to showcase on a national platform the Family Court’s vision of working with limited resources to improve services to families who do not have the means to get their fair share of the legal system.” The NCJA Outstanding Criminal Justice Program Awards identifies and shares successful criminal justice programs. The award’s purpose is to highlight programs that: address an important criminal justice issue; demonstrate effectiveness based on program goals; are a good example of effective use of federal funds to initiate a program that is subsequently supported through state and local funds or is self sustaining; and can be replicated in other jurisdictions. 15

Tracy M. Guerrero 2010 Henry Toll Fellow

Events 2010

CNMI Director of Courts Ms. Tracy M. Guerrero attended the prestigious Toll Fellowship Program held in Lexington, Kentucky August 20-25, 2010. She was extremely pleased to have been chosen to attend and proud to represent the CNMI. “This was an amazing opportunity to engage in productive discussions with the best and the brightest across three branches of government from the 50 states and territories. The program was very thoughtfully put together to develop a collegial bonding experience that provided a safe and neutral environment to talk about critical issues such as budget shortfalls. It was reassuring to know that the CNMI is not alone in dealing with its budget crisis. Leaders from the three branches of government in the CNMI would benefit greatly by participating in a similar leadership conDirector Guerrero received her B.A. from the ference to enhance mutual underUniversity of California at Berkeley and MBA standing and appreciation.” from California State Eastbay.

Guerrero has served as the Director of Courts for the CNMI Judicial Branch since August 2008 and was nominated to attend the 2010 Toll Fellows by Chief Justice Miguel S. Demapan. The Toll Fellows Program Diversity. . .Toll Fellows brings together a geographically, ethnically and politically diverse group of individuals. Uniqueness. . .Aimed at developing leaders from all three branches of state government, Toll Fellows assists leaders by providing insights and perspectives not readily available in the course of everyday public service. Development. . .Toll Fellows provides high-level speakers that stimulate personal assessment and growth, and sessions that provide new team-building skills while helping you revisit the core beliefs that led you into public service. In addition, participants will leave with enhanced communication skills, cutting-edge information and new relationships that cut across state and party lines. http://www.csg.org/programs/leadershipprograms/tollfellows/default.aspx 16

Austerity Days In

August, the Judiciary was finalizing its budget request while at the same time beginning to face the prospect of a CNMI budget impasse that would ultimately close all but the essential services of the CNMI government for eight days at the beginning of October.

Events 2010

Presiding Judge Robert C. Naraja, pictured above, conducted a meeting of all the Judiciary’s staff to explain the situation. The eight hour per week work reduction for all staff began November 1st. A workable schedule for the court was established whereby the court remained open five day’s a week except for federal holidays so as to facilitate timely bail, preliminary and temporary restraining order hearings every day of the week.

For the Judiciary, Governor Fitial proposed a budget of only $2.9 million, a little more than half of the Judiciary’s request of $5.5 million. By September 1, 72 hour work week notices had been issued to all non-essential judiciary staff effective November 1st. 17

Retirements C.J. Miguel S. Demapan Wayne M. Archibald Winniefreda DLG Mendiola Transitions Judge Ramona V. Manglona Judge Joseph N. Camacho Marshal Division

Events 2011

Interpreter Training Outreach Mock Trial We the People Law Week Essay and Poster Contests The Judiciary’s History Book Attorney Generals’ Cup


Chief Justice Miguel S. Demapan


On September 15, 2011, Chief Justice Miguel S. Demapan announced his retirement from the Commonwealth Judiciary, effective September 30th. The Chief Justice served the Commonwealth for almost two decades, including twelve years as the Chief Justice. He was the third Chief Justice of the Commonwealth Supreme Court. The Chief Justice joined the judiciary in November 1992, when he was appointed to the Commonwealth Superior Court as an associate judge. In July 1998, Governor Pedro P. Tenorio appointed him to the Commonwealth Supreme Court, and a year later, he was sworn in as Chief Justice.


Under Chief Justice Demapan’s leadership, the Supreme Court saw many positive developments, including publication of the first ever judicial history of the Commonwealth, the formation of the Judicial Council, which he chaired, implementation of the electronic filing system at the Superior and Supreme Courts, and construction of the courthouse on Rota. He also served as the President of the Pacific Judicial Council. Chief Justice Miguel S. Demapan in his resignation letter said: “I will always be proud of the Supreme Court of the Northern Marianas and its accomplishments during my tenure. The record will reflect the work done to improve the judiciary and our efforts to provide more access to our justice system.”

Wayne M. Archibald Judiciary IT System Administrator


Wayne M. Archibald retired from the Judiciary’s IT System Administrator position in August, having served the Judiciary for a combined ten years plus two years with the Criminal Justice Planning Agency. His significant accomplishments and contributions led to the enhanced functioning of the criminal justice system. Early in his tenure, Mr. Archibald coordinated the installation of the first electronic case tracking system, Evans Caseload. He later oversaw the upgrade of the Judiciary’s case management system with the installation of New Dawn’s Justware, Laserfiche document imaging, the trial court’s bar code filing system, the probation tracking system, and the integration of the LexisNexis electronic filing system. Additionally, he installed search protocols for the 20

criminal record history and traffic clearance programs with the Office of the Clerk of Court in the Superior Court. Mr. Archibald played an integral role in overseeing the networking of and interconnectivity features for all Judiciary divisions, courtrooms, and chambers on Rota, Saipan and Tinian. Mr. Archibald also assisted the Judiciary in its partnership with other criminal justice agency stakeholders by extending his expertise to the Criminal Justice Planning Agency, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Public Safety, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Division of Youth Services.

Winniefreda DLG. Mendiola Deputy Clerk 1 (Rota)


Winniefreda DLG Mendiola retired October 21, 2011, as Deputy Clerk 1 serving Rota. She is pictured above on the left with her coworker Michelle L. Atalig, Administrative Assistant, Commonwealth Recorder’s Office. After Winniefreda’s employment with the Pubic School System, she served the Superior Court for fifteen years, beginning in October of 1996. She was described as her customers’ capable and knowledgeable best friend at the Rota Judicial Center.

The Rota Judicial Center, Sinapalo, Rota 21

Judge Ramona V. Manglona’s Nomination and Confirmation as Chief Judge, U.S. District Court On July 26th, the U.S. Senate confirmed President


Obama’s nomination of Superior Court Associate Judge Ramona Villagomez Manglona as chief judge of the U.S. District Court for a 10-year term. Three days later, the president signed Manglona's commission making her the first federal judge from the Northern Marianas and marking a true milestone in the history of the Commonwealth. Judge Manglona resigned her judgeship with the Commonwealth Judiciary and was sworn-in during a private ceremony as Chief Judge on July 30th by Circuit Judge Mary Schroeder of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The former associate judge was appointed to the Superior Court bench in May of 2003 and handled numerous small claims, traffic, civil, criminal and family court cases. During her tenure, she spearheaded efforts at enhancing access to the courts and developing performance measures; since 2007 she presided as the Chairperson for the Criminal Justice Information Systems (CJIS) Committee, a working group mandated by law to develop and implement the policies of an information sharing network among law enforcement and related criminal justice agencies. She is pictured to the left at her investiture to the U.S. District Court with, from left to right, CNMI Associate Justice John A. Manglona, Acting Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro, CNMI Superior Court Associated Judge David A. Wiseman, Presiding Judge Robert C. Naraja, Associate Judge Perry B. Inos and Former Judge Timothy H. Bellas.


Judge Joseph N. Camacho’s Investiture


On November 4th, 2011 the CNMI Senate confirmed attorney Joseph James N. Camacho's nomination to fill the vacancy left at the CNMI Superior Court by Ramona V. Manglona, who had assumed the position as District Judge for the US District Court. Joseph N. Camacho was sworn in as Associate Judge during a private ceremony at the governor's conference room on Capital Hill November 10th, becoming the newest Associate Judge at the CNMI Superior Court, joining current Associate Judges Perry B. Inos, Kenneth L. Govendo, and David A. Wiseman and Presiding Judge Robert C. Naraja on the Superior Court bench.

Judge Camacho attended Gonzaga University School of Law and received his J.D. in 2001. After law school, he served as a prosecutor for the CNMI Office of the Attorney General. He was later elected to the 17th CNMI House of Representatives, where he served as House Floor Leader. Judge Camacho is married to Viola Alepuyo, and they have one child, Ulen Joseph Alepuyo Camacho. The investiture ceremony for the Honorable Joseph N. Camacho, Associate Judge, Commonwealth Superior Court was held on Friday, November 18th in the Supreme Court Courtroom.


Judiciary’s Marshal Service Division New Authority and Duties under PL 17-41 Public Law 17-41 enacted in May of 2011 defines new authorities, duties, responsibilities and functions for the Marshal Service Division of the CNMI Judicial Branch. The measure allows the Judiciary to serve jury summonses and other court processes instead of depending on the Department of Public Safety. Acting Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro said that the legislation authorizing the Marshal Service Division to serve jury summonses was desperately needed at a time when the Department of Public Safety, like the Judiciary and many government agencies, is understaffed and overworked.


The Superior Court had been hard-pressed to ensure that sufficient numbers of summonses were delivered by DPS and had postponed a jury trial because only ten of the average thirty individuals required were summoned to be jurors. Since the enactment of the bill, the Marshal Services Division has been able to consistently serve a sufficient number of jury summonses, as well as other court processes, so that justice has not been delayed for these reasons . The bill requires that the chief marshal and deputies undergo firearms training and periodic certification to the same extent as Police Officers of the Department of Public Safety. Chief Justice Miguel S. Demapan said at the time the legislation became law, “the Marshal Service Division is now a fully recognized law enforcement entity. Its officers have authority equal to police officers in the performance of their duties.”

The Marshals, bottom row from left: Benusto M. Lisua, Gideon S. Kikku, Juan E. K. Atalig, Cindy D. Serrano, Manuel Q. Tenorio, Jesus S. Santos and Chief Marshal Anthony P. Benavente. 24



Marianas Baptist Academy Mock Trial Champions

The CNMI Bar Association, with assistance from the Judiciary, hosted the 2011 CNMI High School Mock Trial Competition in March at the Guma Hustisia/Iimwal Aweewe/ House of Justice. Six public and private high schools, representing all three islands, participated in the scholastic competition where students portrayed the role of attorneys and witnesses in a fictitious case. The CNMI competition was started in 1999 by the Bar Association and former Justice Ramon Villagomez as a means of introducing students to the justice system. The 2011 finalists were Mt. Carmel High School and Marianas Baptist Academy. Marianas Baptist Academy (MBA) took home the championship this year. The MBA team consisted of students Gino A.P. Benevente, Jodel Katrina Fernandez, Seong Jun Hwang, DongHee Im, Hanbert Jeong, Chan Woo Lee, Manatsu E. Omori and Michael U. Sheu. Jennifer Dockter, Supreme Court Clerk of Court and Chief Public Defender Adam Hardwicke were the teams’ attorney coaches. The students competed in the national high school mock trial championship held during May in Phoenix, Arizona. Fortyeight teams, including representatives from forty-three states, Guam, the CNMI, South Korea and Australia, participated in the national event. This was the largest number of participants in the national competition’s twenty-seven year history.


SAIPAN SOUTHERN HIGH SCHOOL WE THE PEOPLE CHAMPIONS In the beginning of May, Saipan Southern High School students, winners of the local “We the People” competition, participated in a national competition held in Washington D.C. The “We the People” competition is only in its third year on Saipan and has been nurtured in its development by Associate Justice John A. Manglona and Associate Judge Ramona V. Manglona.


The program, sponsored by the Public School System, gives students comprehensive instruction on the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the principles and values they embody. Like the mock trial competition, “We the People” is intended to strengthen participants’ analytical skills and presentation abilities. Judiciary law clerks, who have volunteered their time as coaches during the local competitions, further assisted the Commonwealth’s team as they make their final preparations.


Pacific Judicial Council Court Interpreter Training October 2011 Associate Justice John A. Manglona provided the conference’s welcoming re-

Interpreter Training

marks to more than thirty (30) participants from the CNMI, Guam, FSM, American Samoa, Marshal Islands, and Palau at the 2011 Pacific Judicial Council Interpreter Training Program. The intermediate level training focused on the principles and techniques of interpreting. It taught participants the duty of the court interpreter to place the non-English speaking person on the same footing in the court room with those who understand English. Featured presenters during the conference were trainers Ms. Debi Tulang-De Silva, J.D., Program Director of Hawaii’s Office on Equality and Access to the Courts, and Dr. Suzanne Zeng from the University of Hawaii’s Center for Interpretation and Translation Studies. The Pacific Judicial Council conducted the training conference with funding and educational resources by Sally Pym, Pacific Islands Judicial Programs, Office of the Circuit Executive, San Francisco.

Associate Judge David A. Wiseman spoke to the attendees and trainers.

From left: Trainer Dr. Suzanne Zeng and PJC Executive Secretary Josephine Cepeda , and at far right: Trainer Debi Tulang-De Silva. 27

Law Week 2011

John Adams Second President of the United States

Commonwealth Judiciary legal staff, including justices and judges, were involved in a broad range of activities during Law Week 2011, including the “We the People” and “Mock Trial” national competition preparations and the Attorney Generals’ Cup. Also, in keeping with the CNMI Judiciary’s resolve to broaden the understanding of the judicial process and the rule of law among students of all ages, a Law Day Poster and Essay Contest was inaugurated to encourage the participation of fifth through eighth grade school children from both public and private schools. The contest’s theme was defense representation of the unpopular accused, with a focus on the defense services performed by John Adams, our second president, and other prominent defense lawyers throughout American history. 28

First Annual Law Day Poster and Essay Contest Winners Receive Awards Law Day Poster Contest ( Elementary School ) First Place

Law Week 2011

Andrea T. Atalig Sinapolo Elementary School Second Place Francheska O. Fauni William S. Reyes Elementary School Third Place Ryan Christian U. Relucio William S. Reyes Elementary School Honorable Mention Chloe Hazel Anne P. Salvosa William S. Reyes Elementary School Honorable Mention Eunice Anne C. Viray William S. Reyes Elementary School

(Pictured above and below are winning contestants displaying their work and receiving their awards from Chief Justice Miguel S. Demapan and Associate Justice Alexandro C. Castro.)

Law Day Essay Contest (Middle School ) First Place

Beda G. Mundo Dr. Rita Hocog Inos Jr. High School Second Place Jonathan R. Pangelinan Mount Carmel School Third Place Zion Alamer Calvary Christian Academy Honorable Mention Noemy Grace V. Pamintuan and Cathryn Javier Mount Carmel School 29

Attorney Generals’ Cup On Thursday, April 28, the twenty-seventh annual Attorney Generals’ Cup

Law Week 2011

speech competition was held in the Supreme Court Courtroom. Attorney General Edward T. Buckingham, along with former Commonwealth attorneys general, hosted the competitive forum in which the young and talented students from local public and private high schools gave speeches considering the positive and negative aspects of CNMI independence versus remaining a Commonwealth of the United States.

The panel of judges, comprised of the former attorneys general, ranked the speakers’ presentations on the basis of content, analysis of the issue, presentation and persuasion. The AG’s Cup was started by Acting Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro when he was the Attorney General in the mid-1980’s. Through the efforts of Justice Castro and the Attorneys General who succeeded him, the event has continued as an important and prestigious competition that fosters analytical thinking and public speaking among our islands’ youth.


The Northern Mariana Islands Judiciary: A Historical Overview Public Release and Recipient of the Governor’s Humanities Research and Publication Award 2011

As part of the Law Week

Law Week 2011

Proclamation Signing Ceremony the book, THE NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS JUDICIARY: A HISTORICAL OVERVIEW, enjoyed its official public release. Chief Justice Miguel S. Demapan and Associate Justice John A. Manglona, who were instrumental in moving the muti-year project to conclusion, spoke about the book’s chronicling the five century evolution of the Commonwealth’s judiciary through changing legal structures from that of the Spanish, Germans, Japanese to the American legal system. The history book’s publication was made possible by the collective efforts of the Commonwealth Judiciary and its staff, the Northern Marianas Judiciary Historical Society, a non-profit corporation established in November 2003, and with grant funding assistance provided by the Northern Mariana Islands Council for the Humanities. Special thanks were extended to the contributing authors: Arin Greenwood, Dirk H.R. Spennemann, Dirk Anthony Ballendorf, Dan MacMeekin, former Judge Timothy H. Bellas, retired Chief Justice Jose S. Dela Cruz, Mia Giacomazzi, and Steven Gardiner. Copies of the book are Judges and members of the executive and legislative branches participated in the official public release and re- available at the Commonwealth's ceived complimentary copies of the new book. public libraries and have been made available to schools and other educational institutions throughout the Western Pacific. The book is also available online at: http://www.justice.gov.mp/history.aspx 31

Law Clerk Steven Gardiner and Associ-

Law Week 2011

ate Justice John A. Manglona spoke on the themes of the HISTORICAL OVERVIEW. Gardiner noted that the book’s “unique focus affords readers a rarelyseen perspective of the court system in the Marianas, and an understanding of the efforts taken to ensure that the Commonwealth is a society governed by the rule of law.” In late October, the Northern Marianas Judiciary Historical Society received the prestigious Governor's Humanities Awards 2011, sponsored by the Office of the Governor and the Northern Mariana Islands Humanities Council.

Jim Stowell, Executive Director of Northern Marianas Judiciary Historical Society, accepted the Research and Publication Award on behalf of the Historical Society, the writers and contributors to the publication.


Decisions of the Commonwealth

Court Decisions

Supreme and Superior Courts can be found on the Commonwealth Law Revision web site http://www.cnmilaw.org/ court_opinions.htm Supreme Court opinion summaries can be accessed through the NMI Judiciary’s web page at. http://www.justice.gov.mp/ opinionsummaries.aspx


Law Revision Commission The Commonwealth Law Revision Commission (“Commission”) is the judiciary agency that is responsible for compiling, editing, and codifying all the various laws of the CNMI into an organized system with the mission of making them available to the public. The Commission carries out its statutory responsibilities by publishing the laws from the legislative, judicial, and executive branches into the following three major legal publications: Commonwealth permanent public and local laws in the Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Code; Commonwealth Supreme Court decisions in the Northern Mariana Islands Reporter series; and Commonwealth rules and regulations in the Northern Mariana Islands Administrative Code. The Commission also provides free and timely access to the CNMI Constitution, public and local laws, judicial opinions, court rules, and other related general information over its internet website at http://www.cnmilaw.org. Work for the Commission is never-ending since legal materials by their very nature become outdated once new laws are created. The Commission staff works on supplements to the statutory and administrative codes and new volumes of NMI Reporters with case law as well as developing other legal tools to provide the CNMI with access to the most up-to-date legal information. The Commission has offered and will continue to expand and create searchable CD-ROMs of various legal materials (Trust Territory Code and Reporters, Commonwealth Registers and CNMI court rules, etc.). The Commission also offers custom-ordered materials such as individual code or agency regulations in book or CD formats.

New Products Released in 2010 and 2011 CNMI CODE 2010

All CNMI statutes through December 2010 with case annotations as well as the Constitution, the Covenant and other legal documents relating to the formation of the CNMI. 2010 SUPPLEMENT CD: The Commission introduced the new pdf searchable supplement CD in 2010 which contains statutes enacted from September 2007 through December 2010 and Supreme and Superior Court cases issued in 2009-2010. This CD supplements CD 2007 CNMI Laws CD and is a convenient addition to the Commission’s line of user-friendly electronic products. VOLUME 7 OF THE NMI REPORTER SERIES Consists of head-noted Supreme Court decisions. (2004 thru 2007). DIGEST OF DECISIONS AND CITATIONS This comprehensive digest analyzes CNMI case law found in the Commonwealth Reporters (1979-1989) and all of the NMI Reporters (Supreme Court cases 1989-2007). It eliminates the practice of having to consult four separate decision digests.


The Commission serves the public by maintaining a website for the community to access a variety of legal information for free. The website contains a wealth of information, such as the CNMI Constitution and Covenant, current and past public/local laws, current and past Superior and Supreme Court opinions, a three-month snapshot of the table of contents of the CNMI Register, update tables for the Commonwealth Code and the NMIAC, and the latest CNMI court rules. The website has a search function that enables the user to access information by simple word searches. The website allows people from remote locations to access CNMI public laws, updates, case law, and court rules at their convenience. The Commission posts new public laws and court decisions on the website within three

days of release to ensure that users have access to the most up-to-date information. The Commission continues to receive positive feedback regarding the value of the contents and the user-friendliness of the website even though lack of sufficient funding has prevented the Commission from making significant improvements to the site over the past few years. The website is often the first point of contact for individuals interested in CNMI laws. The Commission has assisted investors (including telecommunications and water companies) via telephone and email in gathering information on establishing a business in the CNMI. Quite often, the Commission will refer individuals to the proper government agency, when appropriate. More-

over, many business people and members of the public come directly to the Commission to obtain copies of the latest regulations, for example the Department of Labor Rules & Regulations. The Law Revision Commission is its own webmaster. This allows the Commission to maintain, update, and improve the website within budget and staffing restrictions. Being its own webmaster ensures the continuity of the Commission’s website and has saved the Commission money by not having to hire or contract a webmaster.

During these tough economic times, the Commission will continue to seek ways to save money while improving the compilation and accessibility of CNMI laws through its website.

2011 COMMISSION MEMBERS As of December 31, 2011

Acting Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro, Chairman Senator Luis P. Crisostomo Representative Rafael S. Demapan Attorney General Edward T. Buckingham



The Numbers


2009-2011 JUDICIARY’S SHARE of 2011 CNMI Government Budget Supplemental Reports and Statistics 2010 and 2011 Superior Court Annual Statistics 2010 Superior Court Annual Statistics 2011 Superior Court Case Dispositions 2000-2011 Office of Adult Probation 2011 Report Office of Adult Probation 2010 Report Family Court Division 2010 Report Cashier Disbursements 2010 & 2011 CNMI Recorders Land Report 2011 To view, go to http://www.justice.gov.mp/supplemental.aspx 36


Civil Cases

Criminal Cases

Family Court Cases

Small Claims Cases

Traffic Cases





























































































The Numbers 37

Number of Superior Court Cases Filed 2000 -2011




The Office of Adult Probation continues to be challenged with its legal obligations: supervision/investigation/ assessment; submission of court reports and rehabilitation of offenders. The average quarterly new case referral is 60-100 cases. The court reports requirements are between 300 and 320 reports or appearances per quarter, and offenders’ rehabilitation involves 100 to 150 quarterly referrals. - Ursula Lifoifoi Aldan, Chief, Office of Adult Probation

The Judiciary’s Share of the 2011 Fiscal Total CNMI Budget for Fiscal Year 2011:

$135,385,866 Judiciary ‘s Budget:


Source: Public Law 17-21


T HE J UDICIARY Guma Hustisia -Iimwal Aweewe-House of Justice P.O. Box 502165, Saipan, MP 96950 (670) 236-9700/9800 For more information, please visit the Northern Mariana Islands Judiciary website http://www.justice.gov.mp/ or call the Judiciary’s Public Information Officer Jim Stowell at (670) 236-9716.


Articles from NMI Judiciary 2010 & 2011 Annual Report