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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Woodruff reports to Corrections for 3-day prison sentence

With the Superior Court failing to act on his new motion to suspend his prison sentence pending appeal, disbarred lawyer Stephen C. Woodruff voluntarily reported yesterday morning to the Department of Corrections in Susupe to start serving his three-day sentence for contempt of court.

Saipan Tribune learned that Woodruff went to DOC before 8am, which was the deadline given him by Superior Court Associate Judge David A. Wiseman to report to DOC. Failing that, he would have been arrested.

On Wednesday, Woodruff filed in the Superior Court a motion for a stay of the sentence pending his appeal to the high court, seeking to reverse Wiseman’s five orders, including Monday’s order that directed him to report to DOC yesterday.

In his motion, Woodruff said the absence of a stay order will wrongfully deprive him of his liberty for three days, without any meaningful remedy, in the event he prevails on appeal.

The lawyer said he has done everything reasonably required to purge any contempt.

Woodruff pointed out that Wiseman’s order partially revoking his suspended sentence acknowledges that he (Woodruff) at least “partially complied with said orders” and indicates that the only thing remaining to be done for him to be in full compliance is to inform his “current and pending clients” of the status of his case.

Woodruff said there is actually no evidence in the record that he has not informed his clients of the status of his ability to practice law.

In fact, he said, all the clients on the list submitted to the court (together with his all former clients) are fully aware of the ongoing proceeding against him.

Moreover, the lawyer said, his disbarment is not final at this stage as the matter is on appeal at the CNMI Supreme Court.

Woodruff also noted that Wiseman’s Nov. 22, 2013, order directed him to pay $200 to his former client, Mr. Nakamura, through the latter’s new attorney not later than Dec. 6, 2013.

Woodruff said this presents two problems: First, he will not be able to make that payment as he is in prison on that date. Second, he does not presently have $200 to make the payment and is unsure as to when he will have the ability to pay.

Wiseman ordered Woodruff’s disbarment on June 7, 2013, for 44 violations of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Four months later, Wiseman found Woodruff in contempt for not complying with the mandate of Rule 15 of the Commonwealth Disciplinary Rules and Procedures and of the disbarment order.

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