The CNMI Bar Association has given lawyer Theresa Kim-Tenorio a passing rate in the evaluation its members did on her fitness to sit in the Superior Court as an associate judge.
A copy of the Bar’s evaluation results obtained by Saipan Tribune yesterday showed that members gave Kim-Tenorio average scores equivalent to “acceptable” or “meets minimum standards of performance.”
The survey form asked Bar members to score Kim-Tenorio on a scale of 1 to 5 on five different parameters, with 1 being the lowest or “unacceptable” and five the highest or “excellent.” A score of 2 is equivalent to “deficient,” 3 is equivalent to “acceptable,” and 4 is “good.”
The lawyer received the lowest average score of 3.00 on experience. She obtained a 3.63 score for integrity; 3.48 for professional competence; 3.41 for judicial temperament; and 3.81 for service to the law and contribution to the effective administration of justice.
A “good” rating is 4, which means the nominee often exceeds minimum standards of performance. An “excellent rating, 5, means the nominee consistently exceeds minimum standards of performance. A “deficient” rating, or 2, means the nominee does not always meet minimum standards of performance. An “unacceptable” rating of 1 means the nominee seldom meets minimum standards of performance.
Bar Association president Sean E. Frink and vice president Maya B. Kara said members who submitted evaluations were also asked how they knew Kim-Tenorio.
Twenty-one evaluating members indicated that they know the lawyer from direct professional experience, 15 indicated that they know her professionally, and 18 indicated that they know her socially, according to Frink and Kara in a letter they jointly signed and submitted yesterday to Gov. Eloy Inos and to the Legislature.
The Bar Association has 200 active members, about 100 of whom primarily practice law in the CNMI. Of these 100 active CNMI-based lawyers, about 40 are employees of the government in various capacities.
Frink and Kara said that 22 active Bar members timely completed and submitted the evaluation forms related to Kim-Tenorio’s nomination to the bench.
Inos nominated Kim-Tenorio to the Superior Court bench early this month, about four months since the governor withdrew the nomination of attorney Ramon K. Quichocho due to controversies.
Kim-Tenorio has been legal counsel for Inos starting when the latter was still lieutenant governor and after he became governor in February this year.
Frink told Saipan Tribune that the forms were sent to Bar members more than two weeks ago and the deadline for submission was last Friday.
The same forms were used in rating Quichocho, the administration’s first nominee to the same position. Bar members, however, flunked Quichocho by giving him the lowest average scores equivalent to “unacceptable” and “deficient.”
The Bar created the evaluation process for judicial nominees and candidates for judicial retention in 2002, saying it is in the interest of the people of the CNMI to have judicial officers of the highest caliber.
The Bar said that elected officials should have the information necessary to make reasoned decisions about whether candidates for judicial offices should be nominated and confirmed.