Judge Camacho seeks retention on the bench

Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph James Norita Camacho, whose six-year term expires in November 2017, is seeking for his retention on the bench at this Nov. 8 elections.

Camacho yesterday sent his request to Commonwealth Election Commission acting executive director Julita A. Villagomez to be included in the 2016 ballot for the retention as Superior Court associate judge.

Camacho said it is an honor and a privilege to serve as a judge.

“I humbly submit for the people of the CNMI to decide if I am worthy to continue to serve as a CNMI Superior Court Associate Judge,” he said in the request letter to Villagomez.

Camacho was nominated and confirmed as an associate judge in November 2011.

Under the CNMI Constitution, the question whether justices or judges will be retained shall be put to a vote at a general election immediately before the end of that justice’s or judge’s initial term of office.

Camacho is called “Judge Maximum” for having a reputation as being tough against serious criminal habitual offenders. He is also known for rejecting lenient plea agreements offered to criminal defendants.

In his letter, Camacho noted that he presided in a total of 72 trials consisting of 27 jury trials and 45 bench trials, the most for a first-term judge in the Superior Court.

The trials involved serious crimes ranging from murder, rape, child molestation, robbery, kidnapping, assault with a dangerous weapon, burglary, theft, trafficking illegal drugs, and others.

At present, Camacho handles the most caseload consisting of all the cases on Rota, half the cases on Tinian, traffic cases, whole probation court docket, most of the bail and preliminary hearings, and his share of Saipan criminal and civil cases.

Camacho issued 86 published opinions, the most for a first-term judge. The published opinions, which can be found at the website on the CNMI Judiciary, add to the CNMI body of law and give guidance on the law.

Camacho also sat in a total of 16 appeals as a justice pro tem on the CNMI Supreme Court.

For over 15 years, Camacho has been part of the high school and junior high school mock trial programs. Every year he volunteers in the “Judges in the Classroom” program which allows judges to visit schools and talk to students about interesting legal concepts and issues.

Camacho has been giving presentations about college-level constitutional law course and search and seizure to law enforcement officers.

He heads the committees on the rules of evidence, jury instructions, probate, small claims, criminal justice information system, and time standards.

Camacho used to serve as a police officer at the Department of Public Safety. He became a lawmaker and was floor leader for House of Representatives 16th NMI Legislature.

At the November 2014 election, majority voted for the retention of Associate Justice John A. Manglona, Presiding Judge Robert C. Narja, and Associate Judge Kenneth L. Govendo.

In 2003, Juan T. Lizama became the first judge in the CNMI to be retained on the bench.

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Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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