Gov. Benigno R. Fitial nominated Associate Justice Alexandro C. Castro yesterday to serve as chief justice of the CNMI Supreme Court-a position that he has occupied in an acting capacity since the late chief justice Miguel S. Demapan stepped down last year.
If confirmed by the Senate, Castro, founder of the prestigious Attorney General's Cup speech competition, will serve an eight-year term
“I have every confidence that you will fulfill the many duties and responsibilities this position carries with impartiality and in good conscience at all times,” Fitial told Castro in the nomination letter.
In a statement, the governor said that Castro has long demonstrated a steadfast commitment to public service and has an outstanding record from his time as an attorney, an attorney general, associate judge, presiding judge, associate justice, and, most recently, as acting chief justice.
“He is ethical, hardworking, and an advocate for fairness in the courtroom,” Fitial said.
In a statement yesterday, Castro said he is humbly accepting the challenges that lie ahead. He said the position of chief justice not only deals with maintaining the rule of law in the island communities, but also entails serving as the head of the Commonwealth Judiciary.
“I hope and pray that my 11 years of experience as a prosecutor/defense lawyer, three years as CNMI attorney general, and 23 years as a judge and justice will assist me in carrying out the arduous tasks and responsibilities required of the Office of the Chief Justice,” Castro said.
He vowed to do his best to maintain the rule of law in the Commonwealth and “keep the doors of justice open to everyone.”
It was reported Wednesday that the Senate is poised to ask Castro, Superior Court presiding judge Robert Naraja, or their designee to preside over the impeachment trial if the House impeaches Fitial for felony, corruption, and neglect of duty.
Castro ascended to the CNMI Supreme Court bench on July 9, 1998. In 2005, voters retained him and the late chief justice Demapan. Castro's eight-year term will expire in July 2014.
Last month, Castro submitted at the Commission on Election his notice of intent to be on the ballot for his second retention on the bench this Nov. 6 election.
Justices of the CNMI Supreme Court have terms of eight years and must be retained at the general election immediately before the end of each term by a majority of the votes casts.
Castro has been serving as acting chief justice since Demapan resigned as chief justice due to health reasons on Sept. 30, 2011.