The Senate Committee on Executive Appointments and Government Investigations will be holding a public hearing on Gov. Benigno R. Fitial's chief justice nominee once the Legislature passes a fiscal year 2013 budget.
According to committee chair Frank Cruz (R-Tinian) yesterday, the priority now is “passing the budget” to avoid a government shutdown on Oct. 1.
“That's the recommendation at this time, right after both houses passes the 2013 budget,” Cruz told Saipan Tribune.
Cruz is the alternate Senate member in the conference committee on the 2013 budget bill.
If no budget is passed and signed into law by Sept. 30, the government will shut down until a spending measure is in place.
On Sept. 13, the governor nominated associate justice Alexandro C. Castro to serve as chief justice of the CNMI Supreme Court, a post he has been occupying in an acting capacity since the late chief justice Miguel S. Demapan stepped down last year.
Castro's nomination requires the advice and consent of the Senate.
Senate President Paul Manglona (Ind-Rota) separately said it will be up to the EAGI Committee now when to call for a public hearing on Castro's nomination.
Fitial's failure to nominate a chief justice since October 2011 as required by the NMI Constitution is one of the allegations in a milestone resolution impeaching him.
House Resolution 17-111 lists 16 articles of impeachment against Fitial for felony, corruption, and neglect of duty.
House minority leader Joe Deleon Guerrero (R-Saipan), main author of the resolution, said the governor's nomination of Castro “does not remedy” the allegation of neglect of duty against Fitial by not appointing a chief justice more than 90 days since the post was vacated, or from October 2011 up until at least the filing of the impeachment resolution on Aug. 27, 2012.
If and when confirmed by the Senate, Castro will serve an eight-year term.