CNMI Supreme Court Chief Justice Alexandro Cruz Castro officially took office yesterday with a pledge to uphold the highest professional standards his predecessors set.
That's why he needs the help of Associate Justice John A. Manglona and all Superior Court judges to achieve his goals for the Judiciary, he said.
“With your assistance (and the assistance of the executive and legislative branches of our government), I firmly believe we can dispense justice in a timely fashion and deliver quality judicial services on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota, notwithstanding the water that separates our islands and the economic downturn here and abroad,” said Castro in his address during his investiture ceremony at the CNMI Supreme Court.
Castro vowed to work tirelessly to achieve his goals-a well-functioning and independent Judiciary, alternative dispute resolution, legal representation for the poor, engaging the community to improve judicial services, and continuing to invest in the Commonwealth's children.
In his remarks, Gov. Benigno R. Fitial said he and Lt. Gov. Eloy Inos are very confident that Castro will successfully lead the way forward in his duty to uphold the protection of individual rights, the rule of law, and the administration of justice in the CNMI.
“Chief Justice Castro has always been known to be judiciously fair and impartial in his court decisions,” he said, citing the chief justice's 23 years of service as a judge of the Superior Court and as a justice of the Supreme Court and, before that, his three years as attorney general and 11 years as a prosecutor and a defense attorney.
Fitial said that Castro's “unblemished professional record and renowned accomplishments” was made even more evident by the vast support of the community.
“His nomination drew an outpouring of support from our local community and from various other jurisdictions throughout the Pacific,” the governor said.
Fitial administered the oath of office for Castro.
In his welcoming remarks, associate justice Manglona said he and Castro have sat together on the Supreme Court for the past 13 years, but they go back to their days at the Attorney General's Office in the late 1980s when Castro was attorney general.
“This long history has illuminated just how much stability and integrity Chief Justice Castro possesses. At no time in the history of this Court has the imperative for stability and integrity at the top of our Judiciary been more acute,” Manglona said.
All current judges were present at the investiture rites, along with retired chief justice Jose S. Dela Cruz, former associate justice Jesus C. Borja, former associate judge Timothy H. Bellas, and retired associate judge Herbert D. Soll.
Among the guests in the ceremony were from the Unified Courts of Guam-Chief Justice F. Philip Carbullido, associate justice Robert J. Torres, and presiding judge Alberto C. Lamorena III. The other guests were Chuuk State Court Chief Justice Camillo Noket and Pohnpei State Supreme Court Chief Justice Benjamin Rodriguez.
The courtroom was packed with Castro's family members, friends, supporters, lawyers, lawmakers, Cabinet members, and other community members.