Former Attorney General Edward T. Buckingham states that the criminal case filed against him has been pending in the Superior Court since August 2012 and to now require him to seek a new lawyer is unjust.
Buckingham, through counsel Brien Sers Nicholas, filed yesterday a motion asking Superior Court Associate Judge David A. Wiseman to reconsider his order to disqualify Nicholas as his counsel.
In the motion for reconsideration, Nicholas said the court is very much aware of the amount of work that he has done based on pleadings filed with the court as well as with the CNMI Supreme Court.
Nicholas said that whoever Buckingham retains as his new counsel, that lawyer must start “from ground zero so to speak.”
Nicholas said Buckingham has invested a lot of his time and resources, financially speaking, in his defense in the case. To require Buckingham now to basically start all over again on an account of having to reinvest his limited financial resources in seeing to it that his new counsel is brought up to speed “is in and of itself not right.”
The trial of the case will be on Feb. 3, 2014.
In his order on Friday, Wiseman determined that there is a significant risk that Nicholas’ representation of Buckingham would be materially limited by his representation of his former clients, the officers involved in the case.
Nicholas undertook representation of Buckingham on Aug. 24, 2012, and then represented officers Jermaine Nekaifes, Myron Laniyo, and Stanley Patris before the 17th CNMI House of Representatives Special Committee on Impeachment.
Wiseman said even if Nicholas had obtained the consent of all parties, this type of conflict cannot be waived because Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.7(b)(3) prohibits a lawyer from representing adverse parties in litigation.
In Buckingham’s motion for reconsideration, Nicholas said to the extent that Wiseman still thinks that a potential for a conflict exists if the police officers were to testify in this case, Buckingham proposes that he be required to seek another counsel to act in a limited capacity in addressing any cross-examinations of the police officers at trial.
“The present counsel will then be walled-off from the new counsel and any cross-examination of the police officers may proceed by this new counsel, thereby alleviating any conflict concerns,” Nicholas said.
The Office of the Public Auditor filed criminal charges against Buckingham in connection with an alleged violation of election laws and illegal award of a sole-source contract, among others.