The lawyer for the Office of the Public Auditor has asked Superior Court associate judge David A. Wiseman to clarify whether or not the court will entertain former attorney general Edward T. Buckingham's motion for reconsideration.
OPA legal counsel George L. Hasselback said it is his understanding that Wiseman's Sept. 11, 2012, order means that the court will not entertain any further motions by Buckingham until he returns to the CNMI to place himself under the court's jurisdiction.
Hasselback said that Wiseman's order particularly stated that: “Before the court will use judicial resources in weighing any of defendant's claims or arguments, defendant must be present in the CNMI so that any order or judgment rendered by the court may be enforced.”
The order would preclude consideration of Buckingham's motion for reconsideration filed on Sept. 18, 2012, and therefore prevent the need to respond to it at this time, said Hasselback, who is also serving as an assistant attorney general in this case.
In his motion for reconsideration, Buckingham, through counsel Brien Sers Nicholas, asked the court to dismiss the criminal case filed against him and to strike the order that declares him a fugitive from justice.
Buckingham also disclosed to the court an alleged confidential letter dated Jan. 25, 2012 sent by Office of Public Auditor Michael Pai to Gov. Benigno R. Fitial.
Nicholas said the letter concerns the OPA's investigation into the “factual circumstances” forming the basis for the three counts of the initial information filed against Buckingham by Hasselback.
Nicholas said the issuance of the bench warrant for the arrest of Buckingham and the subsequent denial of his motion to quash the bench warrant were in errors as a matter of law.
On Sept. 11, 2012, Wiseman issued an order declaring Buckingham a fugitive from justice.
“[Buckingham] is a fugitive of justice, and his argument that his absence is not willful and he has not attempted to conceal his whereabouts does not shed his fugitive status,” said Wiseman in the order.
Wiseman denied without prejudice Buckingham's motion to quash the $50,000 bench warrant he issued when Buckingham failed to attend the hearing last Aug. 6.