Superior Court Associate Judge David A. Wiseman has rejected the $50,000 cashier's check that fugitive and former attorney general Edward T. Buckingham had posted for his bail.
“The posting of bail by [Buckingham's] attorney when the defendant is not in custody is not a procedure that can be found in any case, rule, or statute of the CNMI, and furthermore, does not have any significance or consequence as to the pending case in its present procedural posture, and therefore, shall not be accepted,” said Wiseman an order issued Friday.
The judge ordered that the $50,000 posted by Buckingham's counsel, Brien Sers Nicholas, be held by the court, “which shall consider instructions from the depositor as to its disposition.”
Wiseman vacated the Superior Court's order dated Feb. 27, 2013, signed by a clerk of court that set Buckingham's arraignment for March 18, 2013.
Wiseman said that Buckingham is a fugitive from justice and is subject to the fugitive disentitlement doctrine previously set forth by the Superior Court and approved by the CNMI Supreme Court.
The judge said when a defendant wants to be released from custody, he or she may post the bail set and a date will be given to them for their next appearance in court.
“Defendant in this case is not in custody, has not subjected himself to the jurisdiction of the court, and cannot transform his status by a mere posting of money with the court as a circumvention or waiver of the personal jurisdiction that this court requires to proceed with the prosecution of this case,” Wiseman said.
According to court records, Nicholas appeared at the Superior Court's clerk's office on Feb. 27, 2013, and submitted a cashier's check in the amount of $50,000 and told the clerk it was for the posting of Buckingham's bail, as set forth in the outstanding warrant issued on Aug. 7, 2012.
The clerk received the check and, as per standard procedure, issued a receipt and accompanying order for Buckingham to appear at an arraignment or other court hearing.
Wiseman found it necessary to vacate the clerk's order and to also vacate the March 18 arraignment date.
On Sept. 11, 2012, Wiseman issued an order declaring Buckingham a fugitive from justice.
The Office of Public Auditor filed criminal charges against Buckingham for alleged violation of election laws and illegal award of a sole-source contract, among others.
An FBI agent served Buckingham with penal summons at the Francisco C. Ada-Saipan International Airport shortly before he and his wife left Saipan on a 6am Delta Air Lines flight to Narita, Japan on Aug. 4, 2012.