Superior Court Associate Judge David A. Wiseman placed under advisement yesterday House Speaker Eli Cabrera's motion to quash the notice of deposition and the accompanying subpoena sent him by the Senate and Reps. Janet U. Maratita (Ind-Saipan) and Ray N. Yumul (R-Saipan) in connection with the lawsuit over the $190.8-million power purchase agreement.
At the hearing, attorney Matthew T. Gregory, counsel for Cabrera, reiterated their position that the service of subpoena was defective as no witness fee was tendered.
Gregory said the subpoena is identical to the issue in the impeachment proceedings before the House of Representatives.
The lawyer also asserted that Cabrera has constitutional immunity from complying with the subpoena.
“The immunity is an absolute privilege,” said Gregory, adding that the court should quash the notice of deposition to protect the integrity of the Legislature.
Gregory did not discuss other issues as Wiseman had already heard the same in a previous motion hearing.
Attorney Ramon Quichocho, counsel for the Senate, Maratita, and Yumul, said the law is clear that the $30 witness fee is not required.
Quichocho noted that Wiseman waived the bond requirement in granting the preliminary injunction because the plaintiffs are the Senate and Maratita and Yumul, who are both elected officials.
With respect to the legislative immunity claim, Quichocho said the motion to quash the subpoena is premature.
“We are not asking to compel testimony. We are only asking for him [Cabrera] to attend the deposition,” the lawyer said.
Quichocho said that Cabrera cannot use his legislative immunity to thwart the deposition. “Certainly the legislative immunity is not a license to thwart Mr. Cabrera' deposition,” Quichocho said.
The Senate, Maratita, and Yumul are suing Gov. Benigno R. Fitial, former attorney general Edward T. Buckingham, Commonwealth Utilities Corp., and Saipan Development LLC.
They want the court to declare the 25-year power purchase agreement “unconstitutional, illegal, unconscionable, and unjust, and therefore, cancelled.”
Wiseman has already issued a preliminary injunction that prohibit Fitial and his co-defendants from pursuing all agreements associated or related to the $190.8-million power purchase agreement.