Superior Court Associate Judge David A. Wiseman yesterday stood by his previous orders denying former attorney general Edward T. Buckingham the right to seek any kind of court relief until he renounces his status as a fugitive.
Wiseman denied Buckingham's request for an extension of time to file a response to Wiseman's Aug. 17, 2012, order.
The CNMI government, through special prosecutor George L. Hasselback, opposed the extension request based on the judge's prior orders invoking the fugitive disentitlement doctrine.
The Aug. 17, 2012, order refers to Wiseman's granting of an ex parte petition of the Office of the Public Auditor appointing OPA counsel Hasselback as special prosecutor in the criminal case against Buckingham. The judge unsealed the order only on Jan. 16, 2013.
In the Aug. 17 order, Wiseman ruled that the Office of the Attorney General is disqualified from prosecuting both Buckingham and his suspected co-conspirators.
In his order yesterday, Wiseman said he will not impose any sanctions at this time against Buckingham or his counsel, Brien Sers Nicholas.
The judge said the application of the fugitive disentitlement doctrine is a novel issue in the CNMI.
Wiseman said he also believes that Buckingham brought his motion based on a good faith belief that the fugitive disentitlement doctrine should not bar his request to challenge an order predating the court's announcement of his fugitive status.
Now that Buckingham knows of the court's interpretation of the fugitive disentitlement doctrine, Wiseman said the court shall consider sanctioning Buckingham's lawyer for any future requests for relief unless the former AG renounces his fugitive status prior to making the request.
Court documents show that Wiseman has consistently denied any relief sought by Buckingham while the former AG remains a fugitive of justice.
The CNMI Supreme Court affirmed on Dec. 5, 2012 that the doctrine applies to Buckingham.
On Jan. 14, 2013, Buckingham asked the court to schedule a status conference in the case. Again, Wiseman denied hearing the request since Buckingham remains outside of the court's jurisdiction. He warned Buckingham that “further use of the court's time and resources in filings that do not comport with these conditions shall not be tolerated.”
In his order yesterday, Wiseman said that, despite the court's warning, Buckingham continues to seek relief while remaining a fugitive.
Buckingham, through Nicholas, argued that the fugitive disentitlement doctrine should not bar his most recent motion because he seeks to challenge an order predating the court's application of the doctrine.
Wiseman, however, found no merit in Buckingham's argument. Wiseman said the critical factor in applying the fugitive disentitlement doctrine is Buckingham's continued refusal to answer the criminal charges.
The Office of Public Auditor filed criminal misdemeanor charges against Buckingham. An FBI special agent reportedly served Buckingham with the penal summons at the Saipan International Airport shortly before he and his wife left Saipan on Aug. 4, 2012.
On Sept. 11, 2012, Wiseman issued an order declaring Buckingham a fugitive from justice.