Torres turns down offer to be attorney general

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Posted on May 12 2009

Gov. Benigno R. Fitial has offered lawyer Victorino Torres of Torres Brothers LLC to be the next attorney general but he declined, Saipan Tribune learned yesterday.

Torres is the second person approached by the governor in recent weeks to succeed former Attorney General Matthew Gregory who resigned in September 2008.

Fitial earlier said he asked Teresa Kim, the current counsel to the lieutenant governor, to be the attorney general but she declined.

When asked for comment, press secretary Charles P. Reyes Jr. yesterday confirmed that Torres was considered for the position but he did not accept the offer.

“It’s very difficult to find a capable, competent attorney who is willing to take the position and leave private practice. But we are continuing the search. It’s not an easy task,” he said.

The Legislature has been at odds with the Fitial administration for not appointing an attorney general since the resignation of Gregory in September.

Gregory Baka has been acting attorney general since Sept. 28. He succeeded to the position after Matthew Gregory’s resignation.

During a House session yesterday morning, House members deferred action on Senate Bill 16-51, or the Attorney General Confirmation Act of 2009, clarifying the law that requires Senate confirmation of an AG nominee.

Sen. Pete P. Reyes, author of S.B. 16-51, was at the House chamber for the deliberation on the bill, but action was deferred until the next session.

During the session, Rep. Tina Sablan asked fellow members whether they heard of any new attorney general nominee, to which some members said “no.”

Under S.B. 16-51, if the governor or his designee does not submit the individual who has been appointed or is otherwise serving in an acting capacity or who has assumed the title of attorney general, acting AG, or interim AG within 30 days, the individual cannot serve in those positions for two years.

If an individual is nominated, but the Senate does not confirm the person within 90 days from the temporary appointed or assumed position date, the position will become vacant and the person nominated can’t be re-nominated during the tenure of the appointing administration. If an individual holds the position of AG, acting AG or interim AG after 90 days without confirmation, they will be breaking the law. Any contracts, purchase orders, or timesheets signed after the 90-day period will be null and void.

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