The CNMI Supreme Court has ordered Attorney General Joey P. San Nicolas and assistant attorney general Charles E. Brasington to explain why they should not be sanctioned for misleading the court by filing two similar motions in the high court and lower court in connection with a land compensation claim.
“The Commonwealth's omission of its filing of an emergency motion in the Superior Court constitutes an egregious and unacceptable misrepresentation, especially given the gravity of the writ being appealed and the eleventh-hour nature of the filing of the Commonwealth's motion in this court,” associate justice John A. Manglona said in an order last week.
Describing the omission as severe, Manglona gave San Nicolas and Brasington until Friday, March 15, to respond.
According to court records, the Superior Court in 2005 awarded Luisa B. Quitugua $77,137 plus interest for her land compensation claim. In November 2012, the government paid Quitugua just $10,000.
On March 1, 2013, Superior Court Associate Judge David A. Wiseman granted Quitugua's request for a writ of execution and ordered the Bank of Guam, Bank of Hawaii, and First Hawaiian Bank to release and deliver to Quitugua's lawyer, F. Matthew Smith's law firm, the funds they are holding that belong to the CNMI government.
On March 4, 2013 at 3:58pm, the government, through the Office of the Attorney General, filed an emergency motion for stay, requesting that the CNMI Supreme Court stay or suspend the writ of execution issued by the Superior Court on March 1.
The OAG's motion failed to disclose that the government had filed a similar motion in the Superior Court on March 2, 2013, or two days earlier.
In his order to show cause, Manglona said the government's motion suggested that no motion had been filed in the Superior Court, stating that “the Commonwealth does not believe that there is adequate time to move the Superior Court to stay its own writ of execution.”
Relying on the government's certification, Manglona said the Supreme Court issued a stay of proceedings in the late afternoon of March 4, 2013, which the high court later lifted after finding out that the Superior Court had already acted on the emergency motion filed by the government in the lower court.
“The Commonwealth's misrepresentation in its certification that there was inadequate time to file a motion in the Superior Court was one of the main reasons for our decision to take the extraordinary action of staying Superior Court proceedings without requiring the movant to file first in the Superior Court,” the associate justice said.
On March 5, 2013, Wiseman granted the government's motion to stay or temporarily suspend the writ of execution.