CNMI Supreme Court Chief Justice Miguel S. Demapan called to order Monday morning the Pacific Judicial Council, composed of the judiciaries of the CNMI, Guam, the Republic of Palau, American Samoa, and the Federated States of Micronesia. The PJC is having its 2009 Biennial Conference at the Fiesta Resort and Spa Saipan on Oct. 25–29.
The first day’s general session included a presentation by lawyer Richard Zorza, a national figure on the topic of self-represented litigants and coordinator of the Self-represented Litigation Network. His speech was titled, “The Challenges of Engagement and Neutrality for Judges and Courts.”
In the afternoon an interactive discussion was similarly focused on handling pro se (self-represented) litigation in the courtroom with emphasis on proven strategies. Participating panelists included judges Kenneth Govendo, Ramona Manglona, E. Remengesau-Rudimch, Kathleen Sali, Anita Sukola, and Dennis Yamase, with Richard Zorza presiding.
The Council also held an executive board member election. Demapan was again elected president of the Pacific Judicial Counsel. Chief Justice Camillo Noket from Chuuk was elected vice president. Chief Justice F. Michael Kruse from American Samoa and Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood were elected secretary and treasurer respectively.
Today, Yap State Supreme Court Chief Justice Cyprian Manmaw will be the Master of Ceremonies. The day begins with Judge Michael Keasler’s address, titled “Judicial Ethics.” Keasler is a judge on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and a former faculty member of the National Judicial College.
The luncheon, beginning at 11:45am in the Bund Restaurant, is open to the CNMI Bar Association, which hosted a welcoming reception and dinner in the Fiesta Hotel’s Hibiscus Hall Sunday evening with music by Southern High School’s Manta Ray Band. Guam Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert J. Torres is the invited speaker and his address is titled “Can We Have Competent, Ethical, and Courteous Lawyers in Court: A report on the Guam Bar initiative to establish an Inn of Court.”
After lunch two sessions are open to the Bar members. In the first, Keasler and Torres will further address professional responsibility for attorneys, and in the second associate professor Kathleen Burch of the John Marshall Law School of Atlanta will present an update on constitutional law with emphasis on recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions.
Tuesday’s final session is limited to PJC members, and will center on evidence-based practice with sensitivity to culture and tradition. Mark Carey Group principal Mark Carey and Center for Effective Public Policy principal Madeline Carter will present “A Report on the Improvement of Guam’s Justice System.”
The Pacific Judicial Council’s conference continues through Thursday, Oct. 29. (PR)